News Roundup

San Marino backs abortion in referendum

The tiny state of San Marino, a landlocked enclave surrounded by Italy, has voted in favour of abortion by 77pc to 23pc.

Voters were asked at the weekend to decriminalise abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks and after that if the mother’s health was at risk, or if foetal abnormalities could cause physical or psychological harm.

The vast majority of Britain’s 200,000 or so abortions annually take place on the ‘health’ ground, usually mental health.

San Marino has 33,000 inhabitants and is 61 square kilometres in size.

In June, Gibraltar voted to legalise abortion where a woman’s ‘mental or physical health is at risk’ or when a foetus has a fatal physical defect, by a margin of 62pc to 36pc.

Gibraltar has a population, like San Marino, of about 33,000 people.


Switzerland votes in favour of same-sex marriage

Switzerland has become the latest country to legalise same-sex marriage. A referendum at the weekend passed by a majority of almost two-to-one. A law permitting same-sex couples to marry is expected to come into force by next summer. Same-sex couples will be permitted to jointly adopt children, and lesbian couples will be given access to donor-sperm.

Opponents of the law say it will deprive children of their right to a mother and a father.


Fathers play vital role, says leading psychologist

Fathers play an “extraordinarily important role” in the lives of their children, one that is distinctive and different from that of a mother, according to one of Ireland’s leading clinical psychologists.

Dr Maureen Gaffney made the remark on RTE radio 1 while promoting her new book ‘Your One Wild and Precious Life.’

She told Brendan O’Connor of the unique contribution of fathers to parenting, and that a child having both a mother and a father is “gold”.

“Fathers have a huge role to play, particularly now as fathers are much more involved in their children’s lives. Fathers, I have a whole chapter on fathers, however your needs are being met, good bad or indifferent by your mother, what your father does really really really counts. He does it differently, he responds to kids sensitively but in a very different way. I watch fathers with their small kids, on the beach or something, all this kind of horse play that goes on. When you go to your father, with one of your little troubles as a child, they listen but not in the same way as your mother and their response is often to try and cheer you up, to distract you, and to spend time, sort of making you feel better about something else. They play an extraordinarily important role, and I hope every father reads about just how important they are.  And of course, they are doubly important if their wives, their partners, find it difficult to respond to the baby.  They can take up the slack and if you have both parents, of course, at your back like that, it’s gold.”


Down syndrome activist says “fight is not over” on UK abortion law

Heidi Crowder and Máire Lea-Wilson are to appeal yesterday’s High Court judgment in London which dismissed their case against the UK government’s discriminatory abortion law that allows abortion up to birth where an unborn baby has a disability, including Down Syndrome.

The two High Court judges held that the particular section of the Abortion Act was not unlawful, and that it aimed to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn child and of women.

After the decision, Heidi Crowder and Máire Lea-Wilson reiterated their view that the law clearly discriminates against people with disability and they vowed to appeal the decision, with Ms Crowter saying, “the fight is not over”.

Ms Crowter, who has Down Syndrome, together with Máire Lea-Wilson, whose two-year-old son Aidan has Down Syndrome, brought the case against the UK government in July, leading to yesterday’s ruling.


Oxford College apologises for hosting Christian conference

An Oxford college has reportedly capitulated to student activism by ‘apologising’ for hosting a training seminar organised by a Christian body.

Authorities at Worcester College, Oxford are reported to have told a student newspaper: ‘The Wilberforce Academy’s views on “reproductive rights” and “conversion therapy” “do not align with our values, and we are aware that the conference’s presence and promotional materials have caused distress to many members of the College.’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, which holds the annual training seminar, said they had no communication from college officials regarding the reports of an ‘apology’ for having hosting them.

“But if the college has turned its back on us, it seems that cancel culture has once again demonstrated the power of its grip in one of our top universities, fueled by a small group of activists who won’t tolerate any view that departs from their own narrow ideology and who will resort to tactics of misrepresentation and sweeping allegations to get their way, seemingly frightening nearly everyone into submission”, she said.


San Marino faces referendum on abortion

A pro-family group has appealed to the people of San Marino to uphold the country’s long-standing protections for unborn life.

This Sunday, a referendum takes place in the tiny State inside Italy on whether to make abortion freely available in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to birth if the unborn child has an anomaly that pose a serious risk to the physical or psychological health of the woman, or if there is a danger to the mother’s life.

The president of the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, Vincenzo Bassi, praised the merits of the current law and said there is a need for more support for motherhood.

“We have a responsibility to recognize the richness of the current San Marino law and to defend it, starting with policies that address the loneliness of families and many women who find themselves in difficulty. Motherhood, despite its many and undeniable complexities, will always remain a joyful responsibility. We must support the awareness of this responsibility and certainly not deny it ”.


Genetic testing of embryos fuels eugenics fears

Couples undergoing fertility treatment are being offered genetic tests on their embryos to forecast the future health of the child as part of a new industry that has raised the spectre of eugenics.

Private companies that offer “polygenic testing” screen embryos produced by in vitro fertilisation and give predictions of the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Genomic Prediction, the first company to offer such tests commercially, initially predicted the likelihood that a child would be short or suffer an intellectual disability but discontinued the service amid concerns over eugenics.

It now focuses on forecasts of future health, telling would-be parents that its tests “give your child the best possible chance of a healthier life”. It boasts that screening could allow parents to choose the embryo with “nearly 50 per cent less risk of heart attack, 42 per cent less chance of type two diabetes”. Clients pay a $1,000 setup fee and then $400 per embryo tested.

A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine said that the forecasts were unreliable. They added that “Historical eugenic policies that sought to eliminate people deemed ‘feeble minded’ or otherwise socially ‘unfit’ make embryo selection for educational attainment, income, intelligence and related traits deeply concerning”.


Iraqi archbishop fears extremists emboldened by Taliban success

An Iraqi archbishop has expressed concern that the recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will embolden Islamist extremists in Iraq.

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy of Erbil said, “Afghanistan and Iraq are very different places. But the takeover of the country by the Taliban certainly provides encouragement to those who support that type of regime.”

Speaking about ISIS in Iraq, the Chaldean archbishop said: “[T]hey have not fully left. They continue to exist in underground capacities and they still maintain a capability to cause harm in Iraq. More importantly, the mentality that created ISIS certainly still remains in the region. So this is a continuing concern… I think it is definitely true that the mentality of Daesh still exists in Iraq and Syria among certain parts of the population.”

The Catholic bishop was concerned about the announcement by US President Joe Biden this July that he intends to withdraw all US combat troops from Iraq by the end of 2021.

“What our history has taught us, especially our recent history, is that in any time of instability and conflict it is the minorities who suffer first. So, to the extent that any change in US involvement in Iraq leads to an increase in instability, certainly we are concerned that this would lead to further persecution of the religious minorities.,” he said.


Another abortion clinic closes in Australia 

Marie Stopes Australia will close their abortion clinic in Newcastle, New South Wales. The organisation – the largest provider of abortion services in the Hunter Region up until now – stated that “physical clinics in regional areas are no longer financially viable”. Another reason is difficulty in finding staff willing to work in abortion clinics.

Last month the organisation also announced the closure of four of its Queensland clinics. The clinics, located in Townsville, Rockhampton, Southport and Newcastle, employed over 40 staff and performed around 5,000 abortions annually.

Marie Stopes Australia’s Managing director Jamal Hakim described the closures as “a really difficult decision“.

He explained: “Costs, when it comes to sexual reproductive health care and particularly delivery of abortion care, continue to increase and COVID hasn’t helped”.

He went on: “The stigma as well means it’s difficult to continue to find a workforce”.

Mr Hakim explained that the organisation will now focus on expanding its ‘DIY’ medical abortion program.


Hungary’s Viktor Orban says Pope inspired him over family values

Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that his recent meeting with Pope Francis encouraged him to keep defending the traditional family.

“The meeting gave me very strong encouragement,” Orban said of his encounter with Francis in Hungary.

“The Holy Father made it clear that the fight we are waging to protect families is the most important struggle with regard to the future of Europe,” he added on public radio.
The Hungarian Government has a range of measures aimed at helping couples to have children and arrest the low birth rate.

Orban cited the Pope as telling him during their 40-minute meeting that there should be no debate or argument over the traditional family unit of mother, father and child.

“He expressed himself more strongly than I have ever managed to … (He said) the family consists of a father, a mother and children, full stop,” Orban said.

“Moreover, he said: go ahead, go for it. And go for it we will.”

The Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni called the meeting cordial, and Francis told reporters that the birth rate, laws to incentivise having babies, and the environment were discussed.
Pope Francis has also implicitly criticised the curbs Hungary places on immigration.
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