News Roundup

Iona speaker calls for Ireland to outlaw surrogacy

Surrogacy should be banned in Ireland to protect children from ‘commodification’ and women from exploitation, a prominent campaigner has said. Speaking before an event organised by The Iona Institute in Dublin, Jennifer Lahl, of the California-based Centre Bioethics and Culture and the Stop Surrogacy Now campaign said that as well as making children into mere commodities, surrogacy exploits women and is damaging to their mental health. Many couples and individuals are “desperate” to have children, but she said, surrogacy is “not good medicine” and there should be “limits” on what people are allowed to buy and what risks vulnerable women are allowed to take. Surrogacy is not illegal in Ireland and is largely unregulated. The Government has indicated it intends to legislate on assisted human reproduction issues.

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Dáil debate on abortion becomes shouting match

The latest Dáil debate on abortion descended into an abusive shouting match as another attempt was made to have the constitutional protection for the unborn repealed. As the chamber sought to deal with the motion for repeal brought by the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit, accusations were cast on all sides, and one TD, Bríd Smith, produced what she said was an abortion pill and taunted opponents to have her arrested for its possession. Independent TDs who had previously campaigned for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment but now held to the Government line in opposing this were called ‘sell outs’ while reference was made also to the ‘Catholic Taliban’ lying behind Ireland’s protection of the unborn.

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Parents of transgender child accused of neglect for opposing reassignment treatment

Social workers in Britain have accused a couple of neglect for failing to let their biological daughter live as a boy. The girl’s case first came to light when she moved from home-schooling to a local public school and began to wear boys clothing and insisting that she be called Gary. Now, having run away once and coming to the attention of social services, the girl’s parents fear she will be removed from their care to allow for her gender reassignment. In a statement via the Christian Legal Centre, the girl’s mother said: “Our daughter is mentally unwell. We believe that her present gender identity problems are part of her mental health problems. She should receive the appropriate help that she needs, rather than being forced into taking on a false identity. Our daughter is too young to make these decisions.” The family has a scheduled meeting with social workers in November, with social workers concerned that the parents’ ‘neglect’ of their child’s wishes will cause her to commit suicide.

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Rise in legal disputes over transgender rights in schools

Legal disputes involving the rights of transgender children are on the rise, a leading Christian charity has revealed. According to the Christian Legal Centre, legal battles are becoming more frequent in an atmosphere where public opinion is more accepting of gender reassignment but where parents of schoolchildren are more resistant to the rise of gender ideology in schools. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre said: “People are raising genuine concerns about this but they feel very frightened to do so because they don’t fit the public or school agenda. What we’re seeing is things like children getting confused and even finding themselves in trouble at school if they get a kids’ name wrong…So long as we in society continue to push the issue it will lead to an increase in these cases.”

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Call for change to ‘oppressive’ law in wake of Ashers ‘cake case’

The Christian Institute has led calls for a change to “oppressive” equality laws after Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland lost its appeal against a discrimination finding in a case involving a pro-same-sex marriage cake. “Equality laws have been turned into an ‘oppressive weapon’ used to curb dissent,” the organisation said in a statement after the original discrimination finding was upheld by the Appeals Court in Belfast appeals court. “Equality laws are there to protect people from discrimination, not to force people to associate themselves with a cause they oppose. But those same laws have become a weapon in the hands of those who want to oppress anyone who dissents from the politically-correct norms of the moment. The law needs to change before more damage is done.” Ashers’ General Manager Daniel McArthur, a devout Christian, said: “If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people’s causes, then equality law needs to change. This ruling undermines democratic freedom. It undermines religious freedom. It undermines free speech.”

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Bishops reiterate right to life as ‘fundamental issue’ for the Church

The right to life is a “fundamental issue for the Church” and “is not going to change”, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said. Speaking after the launch of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, and ahead of the latest attempt in the Dáil to have the constitutional protection for the unborn repealed, the Archbishop stressed the Church’s unwavering position and its right in a democratic society to express itself on the issue. His words have been echoed by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh who said that on the right to life, the Church will “try to speak about that in a tender and loving and compassionate way and also reach out to those who are in great pain – perhaps even in crisis over this issue.”

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Anti-abortion Disability Bill progresses through House of Lords

A bill aimed at removing disability as a ground for abortion has had its second reading in Britain’s House of Lords. The Abortion (Disability Equality) Act received broad backing from peers, who also heard from Lord Shinkwin, the disabled peer who introduced the bill. In his address to the House, Lord Shinkwin said that the greatest hurdle for people with disabilities is the attitudes of others, many of whom simply assume that a disabled person is “better off dead”. He added that the Department of Health’s “eugenic screening programme” reinforced this notion, meaning that he, as a disabled person, despite his personal achievements in politics would also be “better off dead”.

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Singles wishing to be parents should be classed as ‘infertile’ – World Health Organisation

Single men and women who wish to become a parent will be classed as ‘infertile’ under new guidelines to be announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to reports, the WHO will argue that infertility should no longer be considered simply a medical condition, and a revised definition will offer every individual “the right to reproduce”. The new definition also means that the inability to find a suitable sexual partner – or the lack of sexual relationships which could achieve conception – could be considered an equal disability. Thus, heterosexual single men and women, and gay men and women who want to have children would be given the same priority as couples seeking IVF because of medical fertility problems. Critics of the move have  called the decision “absurd nonsense”.

 

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New Bill on abortion to be introduced in Dáil

A fresh attempt to push abortion legislation through the Dáil will be made next week. On October 25, the Anti Austerity Alliance-People before Profit group will introduce a Bill aimed at forcing a referendum on removing the pro-life from the Constitution. A previous attempt in July to introduce legislation for abortions in the case of foetal abnormality failed, though it caused deep division in Government. Reports of the latest push on abortion comes just days after the first meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly at Dublin Castle to discuss the Eighth Amendment and the issue of a referendum.

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Study finds over 5,000 Irish women sought online abortion pills

Over 5,000 Irish women North and South accessed online abortion pills between 2010 and 2015, according to a new study. Published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study by researchers at the University of Texas analysed information provided by the abortion lobby group Women on the Web to examine the cases of 5,650 women who had sought pills online. Of that number, 25.8% were aged between 30 and 34 and 24.1% were aged from 25 to 29, 4.6% were under 20, and 2.6% were over 45. In a big majority of cases, women cited not being ready “at this time in my life” as the main factor in seeking abortion pills, while failure of contraception was the leading reason for pregnancy.Responding to the study, Bernadette Smyth, of the pro-life group Precious Life, said: “Abortion is a criminal offence in Ireland and if women are accessing these dangerous pills online and have an adverse reaction that could endanger their life, who will take responsibility?

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