News Roundup

Axing 3-day wait for abortion would ‘betray voters’, says PLC

A new review of the State’s abortion law is likely to recommend the axing of a safeguard designed to allow women breathing space before deciding whether to have an abortion.

Such a move would significantly increase the number of abortions taking place every year, according to the Pro-Life Campaign (PLC).

Two senior political sources told the Irish Times that the review recommends a “loosening” of the current law, including the potential removal of the three-day wait to access an abortion.

Commenting on the media report, the PLC’s Eilís Mulroy said in the first three years of the abortion law 3,951 women did not proceed beyond the first consultation, calling it “solid evidence” that thousands of women used the period to decide for keeping their baby.

Axing that would “without question” lead to another significant rise in abortion numbers, she said.

Ms Mulroy also noted that many people who voted Yes in 2018 did so following assurances that this three-day period would be a central component of the eventual abortion law. It was part of the ‘strict guidelines’ which then-Tánaiste Simon Coveney said impacted his decision to call for a Yes vote.

She concluded that removing that safeguard now would be “a betrayal of voters and of women in need”.


Medical breakthrough could result in children with no biological mother

A breakthrough by Japanese scientists who created a baby mouse from two male mice could lead to people producing embryos from manipulated sperm without any need for a female egg. This would mean children could be born for the first time ever who have no biological mother and instead have two biological fathers.

Writing in the Irish Independent, Trinity College scientist, Luke O’Neil, said the scientists took a skin cell from a male mouse and removed the Y chromosome, leaving it with one X chromosome. They then ‘borrowed’ another X chromosome from a different male skin cell. They then turned that cell into an egg cell.

They then fertilised the egg that had come from a male with a sperm, grew it into an embryo and implanted the embryo into a surrogate mother mouse, “just like regular IVF in humans”.

Lead scientist Katsuhiko Hayashi and his team are now attempting to do the same with human cells.

Because of differences between mice and humans, and concerns over safety, Hayashi says it will take 10 years.

O’Neil writes that even in mice, what they achieved wasn’t efficient. “They made about 600 embryos, but only seven survived. With regular IVF, the number would be five times higher”, meaning with IVF 35 out of 600 embryos survive for possible implantation.

The same team of scientists were also able to make sperm cells from skin cells, obviating the need for either an egg or sperm cell for reproduction.

“The ethical questions of a baby having two dads will need to be considered, but if it is possible to achieve this in humans, same sex couples who want a baby might well be able to have one. All that will be needed is skin cells reprogrammed back to egg and sperm, some Reversine [a special chemical to manipulate chromosomes], and a surrogate mother”, O’Neil concluded.


Archbishop approves change of patronage for city school

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell, has given “full approval and agreement” to a change of patronage for Saint Enda’s primary school on Whitefriar Street in Dublin.

As patron of any primary schools in the Dublin archdiocese, Dr Farrell confirmed his support regarding the reconfiguration of patronage within the archdiocese “in order to reflect the growing diversity of Irish society”.

He said he looked forward to continuing cooperation with the Department of Education in order to bring this about.

He said much had been learned from the process and pointed out that consensus was “vital”.

“I, along with the other Catholic Patrons, will continue to work with the Department to identify remaining barriers to the building of that consensus.

“This includes reassuring Catholic parents that their choice of a school with a Catholic patronage and ethos will continue to be secured and facilitated within the education system,” added Dr Farrell.


Over 200 Pastors call for new RSE course to be scrapped

A group of over two hundred evangelical leaders have called on the Government to rescind planned changes to the junior-cycle RSE curriculum because of concerns about graphic content and radical gender theory.

The letter, written by Pastor John Ahern of All Nations Church, Dublin, and Mark Loughridge, New Life Fellowship, Letterkenny, claim the current proposals would expose Junior Cert students to pornographic content and teach transgender ideology.

“We believe that exposing any child to pornography is dangerous. We would not expose children to alcohol or drugs in the interests of their education, so why do it with something that research has shown to be as addictive as cocaine, causing damage to the neural pathways and receptors in the brain?”, they write.

“Regarding the pushing of transgender ideology—we note that other countries are backing off this push having been ahead of Ireland in implementing it. They have seen the wreckage in damaged young lives which it has produced and recognise that many more issues are involved than transgender ideology allows for. Ireland does not need to go down the same tragic and misguided path”.

Meanwhile, a review of Ireland’s sexual health strategy recommends the development of a plan to address the impact of early exposure to pornography.

Commissioned by the Department of Health, ‘The Review of the National Sexual Health Strategy’ (NSHS) said adolescents’ pornography consumption is associated with subsequent increased sexual, relational, and body dissatisfaction.

“Increased pornography viewing has been associated with younger sexual debut, higher numbers of partners, and casual sex partners,” it said.

The current strategy has supported training in this area to youth workers through the National Youth Council of Ireland.


World ‘population bomb’ may never go off as feared, finds study

The long-feared “population bomb” may not go off, according to the authors of a new report that estimates that human numbers will peak lower and sooner than previously forecast.

The study, commissioned by the Club of Rome, projects that on current trends the world population will reach a high of 8.8 billion before the middle of the century, then decline rapidly. The peak could come earlier still if governments take effective steps to raise average incomes and education levels.

While the demographic pressure on nature and the climate should start to ease, the authors caution that falling birth rates can also create new problems.

Countries such as Japan and South Korea are grappling with a shrinking workforce and tax base while also experiencing greater stress on healthcare associated with an ageing society.


TD decries lack of coverage of Christian persecution

Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith has said that the global persecution of Christians is “not an issue that gets near enough widespread coverage as it should” and that he was shocked by the contents of a recent report.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith said that he thinks “the vast majority of people would not be aware of the extent of the persecution of Christians”.

He added that he thought people of all faiths or no faith, “would be equally horrified by the reports and the extent of the persecution”.

Church in Chains recently launched their 4th Global Guide which lists 60 countries where 200 million Christians face varying degrees of persecution because of their faith.

Deputy Smith commented: “what I read outlines very, very clearly how deplorable these activities are, and how they need to be addressed and stamped out as much as is possible”.


Sharp decline in married people in NI over last fifty years

There has been a sharp decline in the number of people who are married in the North of Ireland from 61% in 1971 to 46% in 2021. A similar decline has taken place in the Republic.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency released data this week showing that 693,000 adults (aged 16 and over) are married or in a civil partnership. In contrast 577,000 adults – 38% – were single (never married/civil partnered). An additional number are divorced or separated.

The agency found that in the last 50 years there has been a decline in the number of adults who were married and an increase in the number of people who are single, up from 31% in 1971.

During the same period the percentage of adults who are ‘Separated, widowed or divorced’ has risen from 9% in 1971 to 16% in 2021. The number of divorced adults has risen from 3,000 in 1971 to over 90,000 in 2021.

Of the adult population who live in households, just more than half lived as part of a couple within the same household (53% or 794,000 people in a married, civil partnered or co-habiting couple).

The remaining 695,000 adults (47%) did not live as part of a couple within the same household.


U.S. bishops: Catholic hospitals shouldn’t carry out ‘gender transition’

The U.S. Catholic bishops have released a statement offering moral guidance for Catholic health care institutions, reiterating that so-called “gender transition” interventions are not to be performed because they do not respect that God has created each person as a unity of body and soul.

To that end, the bishops wrote, “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.”

“They must employ all appropriate resources to mitigate the suffering of those who struggle with gender incongruence, but the means used must respect the fundamental order of the human body.”

The statement, titled “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body,” is intended to provide moral criteria for discerning which medical interventions promote the authentic good of the person and which are injurious. The statement was developed in consultation with medical ethicists, physicians, psychologists, and moral theologians.


National campaign on sexual consent launched

A national campaign on consent will begin today.

The ‘We Consent’ campaign, will be run by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

It will be funded by the Department of Justice and the Community Foundation Ireland.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the DRCC, positive values of consent can help reduce levels of sexual violence.

Noeline Blackwell said that a greater understanding will make society more equal, happier and healthier – as well as safer.


EU Bishops to enhance cooperation on family policies

A European-wide advocacy group for Catholic families and the representative agency of the Catholic Bishops to the EU have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance their cooperation in the field of family policies at the EU level.

The agreement was signed by H. Em. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), and Vincenzo Bassi, President of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE).

With this understanding, both organisations will benefit from each other’s expertise. FAFCE will tighten its relationship with the representatives of the Catholic Church in the European Union, participating as observer member to the meetings of the COMECE Social Affairs Commission. The Bishops of the European Union will gain from the grassroot experience in the field of family policies offered by the many national organisations that are part of FAFCE.

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