News Roundup

BBC criticised for assisted suicide drama

The BBC is facing allegations that it is acting as a “cheerleader for assisted suicide” following a long-anticipated episode of the soap Eastenders portrayed a leading character dying by that means. Following the episode, which had seen weeks of publicity around the departure of character Peggy Mitchell, the Care Not Killing group described as “extremely disappointing” the programme-makers portrayal of assisted suicide. Care Not Killing pointed out that this was the seventh pro-assisted suicide programme aired by the BBC, while alternatives like palliative care were virtually ignored.
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Oklahoma moves to outlaw abortion

In a first for any US state, Oklahoma legislators have passed a bill aimed at outlawing abortion state-wide and make the performance of a termination a criminal offence. The new bill was passed at the Senate 33-12 in the wake of an earlier House vote passed it 59-9. Republican Senator Nathan Dahm, who tabled the bill, said “I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception”, and expressed the hope that the bill would go all the way to the nation’s Supreme Court to undo Roe v Wade, the landmark ruling which legalized abortion across America.
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Italy experiencing an “apocalyptic” birth decline

Italy’s government has expressed alarm at the country’s rapidly declining birth rate. Describing the decline as “apocalyptic”, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin called for an immediate doubling of child benefits to encourage Italians to have children. “If we carry on as we are and fail to reverse the trend, there will be fewer than 350,000 births a year in 10 years’ time, 40% less than in 2010—an apocalypse,” the minister said. According to one measure, Italy saw just 488,000 births in 2015, the lowest rate since the foundation of the state in 1861.
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Catholic schools urged to offer set quota of school places to non-Catholics

A new group is calling on Catholic schools to set aside 10% of places for unbaptised children and those of minority faiths in the event of overcrowding. The Faith in Our Schools group, consisting of leading Catholic educationalists and a Senior Counsel, says it fully supports the ethos of Catholic schools but also recognises that communities served by the schools have changed significantly in recent years, leading to its call. “A change to admissions policy along the lines suggested would be fair to both the faith community and those who do not belong to it,” the new body said, adding that it also supports faster and wider divestment of Catholic schools.

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Ireland sees 412 same-sex marriages since passage of referendum

There have been 412 same-sex marriages in Ireland in the year since the passage of the marriage referendum one year ago. Of these, 223 were pre-existing Civil Partnerships. Figures released by the Department of Social Protection show that all but one county – Clare – registered at least one same-sex marriage. Dublin recorded just over half of all marriages, with 43 in Cork, 25 in Limerick and 17 in Wicklow.

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Irish doctors too ready to accept negative portrayal of Church in healthcare

Irish doctors too readily accept negative perspectives on Church involvement in healthcare, a leading member of the Irish Medical Council (IMC) has said. Quoted in The Irish Catholic newspaper, Dr Ruairi Hanley, commenting on media coverage of the governance conflict between the National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital, said some of his younger colleagues “rarely miss a trick when it comes to denouncing Catholicism via Twitter” while “many GPs seemingly prefer the official narrative of the violent Christian Brother and the sadistic guardians of the Magdalene Laundries”. Dr Hanley went on to praise the role played in healthcare by the Church which “deserves better than to be routinely condemned for its very existence”.

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Catholic Trust to apply for five new primary schools

Hopes for the establishment of five new Catholic schools have been raised with confirmation that one Catholic schools trust is applying for patronage next year and in 2018. CEIST, a Catholic schools trust founded by five religious orders, confirmed to The Irish Catholic newspaper that it is making applications for five of nine proposed schools. The trust is already patron to 110 primary schools in Ireland. Dr Marie Griffin, CEO of CEIST, described the potential of taking on the new schools as “a wonderful challenge”.

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Obama administration ties hospital funding to abortion provision

The Obama administration has threatened hospitals across America with the loss of federal funding and possible legal action unless they provide for abortions and ‘gender transitions’. Citing a drive for ‘equity’, the Department of Health and Human Services published an update to the so-called Obamacare mandate on health facilities, stating that unless complied with, funds would be discontinued while facilities could find themselves referred to the Department of Justice. The Family Research Council condemned the threat, stating: “This intolerant and unjust rule, in turn, threatens to force health care providers to participate in and perform services that substantially violate their consciences.”

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Forty Irish women travelled to UK last year to have Down Syndrome babies aborted

Unborn babies with Down Syndrome accounted for 40 abortions sought by 3,400 Irish women who travelled to Britain for terminations last year, new figures have shown. Released by the country’s Department of Health, the figures reveal that Down Syndrome abortions were granted on the basis that such babies were at risk of serious disability. Of 135 women citing potential disability or foetal abnormality in seeking abortion, nine terminations were carried out after a spina bifida diagnosis and one for cystic fibrosis.

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Concerns expressed for pupil claiming to be transgender

A family court hearing has been told that both a primary teacher and principal expressed concern over the transgender process being undertaken by a pupil at the school. According to testimony from a social worker dealing with the case of the young pupil who wishes to identify as a girl, and whose father has already declared himself to be a woman, the school authorities previously approached the Child and Family Agency to express their concerns about the reasons cited by the pupil believing himself to be transgender. The social worker acknowledged that “this area needs further investigation”.

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