News Roundup

Lured into surrogacy, kept in slavery

In a shocking case in the USA, a woman was trafficked from Mexico in order to act as a surrogate, but was kept in virtual slavery even to the point of being forced to have sex with strangers and be inseminated with their sperm. The orchestrator of the scheme, Esthela Clarke, 47, has been arrested by police and is facing up to 20 years in prison. Ms Clarke had met the victim in Guadalajara, Mexico and promised her $3,000 – $4,000 to act as a surrogate. The victim had to be smuggled from Mexico into the USA and then underwent repeated attempts at a crude homemade insemination using the sperm of Ms Clarke’s boyfriend. During this time the victim slept on a floor and was forced to work while handing over her earnings to Ms Clarke. The abuse continued for up to three years until a member of a local church rescued the woman and mad a complaint to the police.

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US Couple caught selling baby online

In a brazen act of child trafficking, an American couple put a five-month old baby up for sale on the internet marketplace, Craigslist, reports the Irish Independent. The ad was spotted by police and an undercover detective responded to it. The detective subsequently met with the couple, handed over the asking price of $3,000 (€2,761) and received the baby in return. The couple were arrested on the spot.  John David Cain (26) and Deanna Lynn Greer (37) are charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment, according to local TV station WSPA News. The baby is currently in the custody of the Tennessee State Department of Children’s Services.

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Teaching religion requirement may be dropped in new primary schools proposal

The amount of time spent teaching religion may be left up to the discretion of individual primary schools under a proposal being considered by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

The body is holding a consultative conference in Dublin Castle to explore how time should be allocated to various subjects throughout the school week. This is in response to complaints from teachers that the school syllabus is increasingly over-loaded with time-intensive obligations.

Schools are required to teach 30 minutes of the religion of the school’s patron. For the vast majority of schools, where the patron is the Catholic Church, that means catechetical instruction in the Catholic faith.

The proposal under consideration though would leave it up to the discretion of each school to decide for themselves how they should organise up to 40% of school time, including time spent on religious education. This would allow schools to drastically reduce the amount of time they currently spend teaching religion.

 

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Girl with Down’s asks UN conference: ‘Why all this testing?’

A 17-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome issued a pointed challenge to policymakers over the use of tests to screen out people with the condition. Speaking at a conference event at the United Nations in Geneva ahead of World Down’s Syndrome Day last Tuesday, Kathleen made clear the immeasurable value of her life and the disturbing nature of screening for Down’s. “I love to sing, I love to dance, and I started playing tennis. I hope everybody loves me. I have Down syndrome. Yes. Is that so wrong? So, why all this testing? Why?” She added: “My name is Kathleen Humberstone and I love my life!”

Her mother Denise said that the testing regime was seriously misguided. “I dare anyone currently promoting this screening to meet with adults with Down Syndrome like my daughter Kathleen. I dare them to look her in the eye and tell her straight to her face that her life is less valuable than their own”.

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Pledge to make Canada ‘most pro-adoption country in the world’

A candidate for the leadership of one of Canada’s largest political parties has pledged a set of policies that would make Canada the most pro-adoption country in the world.  Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost says he’ll double the federal tax credit for adoptive parents to “at least $30,000”. This is a tax credit that parents can claim for expenses incurred during the course of an adoption. Currently, the credit can be claimed for expenses only up to a limit of $15,000. Trost says this reform would be part of a wider commitment to uphold the sanctity of life and promote pro-life policies.

An MP since 2004 and the father of a two-year-old daughter, Trost acknowledged that “we would like legislation” to protect the child in the womb, “but we also understand in Canada that may take awhile to get to that goal.” But he can advance policies supporting adoption, Trost pointed out in a campaign video. “We need to review our laws, federally and provincially, to see what we can do to make our laws more friendly for quicker, easier adoption, both domestic and internationally,” he added.

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State may force Religious schools to prioritise local children

A proposal to oblige religious schools to prioritise locally-based children has emerged as a front-runner in plans to reform the admissions policies of faith based schools reports the Irish Times. At present, publicly funded schools which are oversubscribed may prioritise children of their own faith-community ahead of other children who live closer to the school. A consultation process to consider reforms of this policy was launched by Minister for Education Richard Bruton last January. The options that were examined included allowing schools to favour children of their own religion only when those children live within the school’s catchment area, or when that school is their nearest one; a quota-based system; and an outright ban on using religion as a factor in admissions. The Catholic Primary School Management Association, which represents the boards of management of the more than 2,900 Catholic primary schools, said the catchment-area proposal was the “least problematic” of the options. However, it says reforms to admissions policies will do nothing to alleviate the shortage of school places and only extra school places will remedy this.

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Let mothers abort babies of the ‘wrong’ sex: Doctors’ ethics boss

Women should be able to have abortions simply because their unborn child is the ‘wrong’ sex, a leading ethics expert at the British Medical Association has said. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Professor Wendy Savage called for the law banning such terminations to be scrapped. Her comments will cause shockwaves as she is an influential member of the BMA’s 18-strong medical ethics committee. They also come amid concerns that British parents are seeking abortions based on the gender of babies – which has led to some NHS hospitals refusing to tell parents-to-be that information. Fears that British women are undergoing abortions based on the gender of their babies have grown since a 2014 study found that Britain had up to 4,700 fewer girls than would be statistically expected. And undercover journalists have secretly filmed doctors appearing to agree to carry out abortions for reasons of gender alone. This led the Department of Health to issue new guidance clarifying the law, which stated: ‘Abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal.’ Pro-life campaigners reacted with dismay and described her demands as ‘utterly abhorrent’. Conservative MP Mark Field said: ‘Suggesting that women should be able to abort babies solely because they happen to be either male or, much more usually, female, is utterly abhorrent. ‘To have someone like Wendy Savage with her extreme views at the heart of the BMA is a very worrying sign. The majority of people in this country, even those who support abortion, think sex-selective abortion is a step too far.’

 

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British Hospital plans to sell sperm donations for £2700

A British NHS Hospital is seeking men to donate batches of sperm which it will then sell on to infertile couples for a whopping £2700. Whittington Hospital in Highgate, north London, is calling on ‘altruistic men’ aged between 18 and 45 to give sperm samples. Bosses reckon they can get ‘three vials’ from ‘one sperm donation’ – and could sell each vial for £900. That means a single sperm donation, for which the donor is paid up to £35 in ‘expenses’, can be sold in three vials for a staggering £2,700. All money raised would go straight into the coffers of the hospital, which is planning on selling sperm to infertile couples. Erica Foster, an embryologist at the Whittington Hospital, said this week: “This could make serious money for the hospital. “You can sell donor sperm for around £900 a vial. I can get three vials from one ejaculate (although) of course, we’ll do it for a bit less, as it is a NHS hospital. Sperm donation is the most magical thing, the most selfless act that transforms lives,” she told the Camden New Journal. “It’s a special type of person who’s going to do this. You can change people’s lives for relatively little effort. But in this country so few people do it. In this country it’s seen as a kind of weird and seedy thing to do.”
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Cautious welcome for proposed Schools Admissions policy reform

Church leaders have given a cautious welcome to the leading proposal for reforming the admissions policies of faith-based schools. Among the reforms being considered by Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, is one that would allow faith-based schools give priority to children of their own faith-community only within the catchment area of the school. This would bar Church-owned schools from favouring children of their own faith from outside school catchment areas ahead of non-religious or minority faith children who live nearby. This has been described as the “least problematic” of the options considered by education minister Richard Bruton to tackle problems supposedly caused by the so-called ‘baptism barrier’ according to the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association. “Our own submission favoured the catchment area proposal, and most Catholic schools would use some variety of catchment area,” CPSMA general secretary Seamus Mulconry told The Irish Catholic, continuing, “We would see a lot of difficulties with any of the other schemes both in terms of complexity and their impact on the rights of minority faith schools.”
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Pro-choice Senator urges rejection of Supreme Court Nominee over pro-life views

A pro-choice US Senator has urged her colleagues to reject a nominee to the US Supreme Court because he believes “the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, made the remarks during the first day of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Although the writings in question regarded euthansia, Senator Feinstein fears the Judge would apply the same principle to life before birth and thereby vote to overturn the Roe v Wade case that made abortion legal throughout the USA. “President Trump repeatedly promised that his judicial nominees would be pro-life, and ‘automatically’ overturn Roe v. Wade,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, said to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Judge Gorsuch has not had occasion to rule directly on a case involving Roe. However, his writings do raise questions. Specifically, he wrote that he believes there are no exceptions to the principle that ‘the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.’ This language has been interpreted by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations to mean he would overturn Roe.”

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