News Roundup

Number of California Hospitals defy assisted suicide law

A growing number of hospitals in the US state of California are defying a newly introduced law on assisted suicide. Rather than comply with the law which allows physicians to prescribe life-ending medications, a number of hospitals in the Santa Barbara and Palm Springs areas have vowed to ignore the law on this issue. One spokesperson, for Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and the JFK Memorial Hospital said: “After careful consideration, we have determined that aid-in-dying medication will not be ordered or administered.” The facilities have agreed that patients seeking information on the End of Life Option Act will receive said information, but nothing further at the hospitals now opting out.

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Taoiseach to set wheels in motion for ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ on abortion

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has announced he will bring a memo to Cabinet next week towards the formation of a Citizens’ Assembly on abortion. Questioned in the Dáil on a UN Committee’s recent call for Ireland to set aside its constitutional protection for the unborn, Mr Kenny resisted calls for an immediate move to repeal the Eighth Amendment protection, insisting that the UN call was “non-binding”. However, he also added: “If we were to decide to have a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment in October, it would not be passed…It is pointless rushing into a constitutional referendum unless there is a realistic consensus on whatever change might be recommended [by the Citizens’ Assembly].”

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UN calls for Northern Ireland to legalise abortion ‘in all circumstances’

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on Northern Ireland to decriminalise abortion “in all circumstances”. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made its call as a separate UN body, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) ruled that the Republic of Ireland’s pro-life laws are “inhumane and degrading”. However, like the HRC, the call by Committee on the Rights of the Child is also non-binding and Northern Ireland is not compelled to act. The UN has been criticised for this latest call, with Callum Webster, of the Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Office, accusing the UN of acting against its founding purpose: “Unborn children in Northern Ireland currently have some of the best protections in the world. A committee tasked with looking after the ‘Rights of the Child’ should seek to uphold that, instead of acting as a cheerleader for abortion in any and every circumstance.”

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Four stand trial for mock crucifixion of Catholic co-worker

Four Englishmen are facing trial for the mock crucifixion of a Catholic co-worker in a campaign of bullying described as religiously aggravated assault. The young Catholic man at the heart of the case, who remains anonymous, told York Crown Court that he felt “ashamed” and “embarrassed” when the defendants restrained him in 2015 and tied him to a make-shift cross and placed it against a wall while they filmed the incident. The man alleges a pattern of behaviour of bullying which included him being covered in drawn crosses on another occasion. He said: “I just felt ashamed that everyone else saw what was happening to me and it wasn’t happening to anyone else. I just felt really embarrassed.”

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Forty English schools allow boys to wear skirts

Some 40 schools in England have adopted a gender neutral uniform code which will allow for young boys wearing skirts. The move has been led by the government funded campaign group Educate & Celebrate. One school involved said its adoption of the policy was to reflect “each child’s right to express their gender and personality in whichever way feels right for them”. However, Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said: “Children at the age of five years old need to be reassured and supported if they experience feelings of confusion about their gender. This policy will only serve to introduce unnecessary questioning and doubt to pupils who may have never otherwise experienced such feelings.”

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Ireland could move on abortion issue by September

Ireland could move to liberalise its abortion laws as early as this September, it has been revealed. As ministers gather to discuss the country’s response to a recent UN call for such a move, some indicated to the media that, rather than Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s earlier suggestion of convening a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue within six months, moves could be underway by September. However, regardless of the discussions to be held between ministers, Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, reminded that legal advice to Government has been that the issue of abortion remains a constitutional matter and therefore one to be placed to the people by referendum.

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Parents still want Sacraments taught at school

Significant numbers of parents still want their children to be taught the sacraments at school, the chief of the new Community School model of patronage has said. Michael Moriarty, general secretary of the Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) said: “This is being ignored by people who live in mainly large urban centres, but throughout provincial Ireland, in particular, there is a demand for the tenets and basics of the core of Catholic religion and sacraments.” He added that this need for ‘belief nurturing’ is recognised in the Community National Schools, 11 of which are already running on a trial basis.

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School assemblies violate human rights – UN

Requiring children to attend school assemblies is a violation of their human rights, a United Nations committee has ruled. In a report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at Britain’s requirement that school children attend gatherings with are “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character” and called on the government to “repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship”. Reacting to the report, Conservative MP David Burrowes described the criticism as “ludicrous” and said the government can “respectfully put those kind of reports in the bin where they belong”.

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Scottish Anglican Church to conduct same-sex weddings

The Anglican Church in Scotland is to conduct same-sex weddings after a motion was passed by its general synod. The Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC) general synod voted to amend its teaching on marriage so as to remove the understanding that marriage is between “one man and one woman”. The decision will now be discussed across Scotland’s seven dioceses before a final vote is held next year. It is reported that the Church will allow for conscientious objection on the part of clergy wishing to opt out of such ceremonies.

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Oregon citizen legally recognised as ‘nonbinary’

A court in the US state of Oregon has ruled that a resident of that state who chooses not to identify as male or female can be considered ‘nonbinary’. Born a male, Jamie Shupe began to transition as a female in 2013 before deciding that neither gender was the preferred one. Shupe filed a legal action in April of this year for legal recognition of a nonbinary state. “It feels amazing to be free from a binary sex classification system that inadequately addressed who I really am, a system in which I felt confined,” Shupe said after the court’s ruling.

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