News Roundup

HSE funded six overseas ‘sex-change’ operations in 2015

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has paid for 59 sex-change operations at facilities abroad in total with six of these occurring in the last year, according to figures gained under the Freedom of Information Act. With no facility in Ireland currently offering such operations, the HSE availed of the Treatment Abroad Scheme to assist persons seeking gender alterations. The cost of the operations by this means has amounted to €1.8 million.

 

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Palestinian President urges protection for Middle East Christians

The Palestinian President Abu Mazen has said it is “a duty and a mission” for Arabs to protect the Christian presence in the Middle East. Delivering a message to Christians, the President said he recognised that Christians are now under severe threat in a manner that threatens pluralism and religious freedom and said he remained committed to the permanent place for Christians in the Holy Land. He called on all Palestinians to counter any act that served to weaken that presence.

 

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Pro-life group wins 28-year legal battle

A pro-life group in the United States which was targeted for legal action by the National Organisation for Women (NOW) 28 years ago, has won its case. The Pro-Life Action League had faced the action brought by NOW in 1986 as a result of its pavement protests and vigils near abortion clinics, which NOW contended was a vast conspiracy nationwide. The feminist group had sought to use gangster racketeering legislation against Pro-Life Action. However, after no fewer than three sittings of the Supreme Court on the issue, the matter has been struck out and NOW ordered to pay the pro-life group’s costs.

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Academic to sue over firing for defence of marriage

An associate professor in the US state of Wisconsin is to sue his former university for terminating his employment after he defended marriage as between one man and one woman in a blog post. In his legal action against Marquette University, John McAdams states that “Marquette University guarantees its tenured faculty academic freedoms, including the right to free speech”, something he was denied in being labelled ‘homophobic’ as a result of his blog posting.

 

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Leading academic calls for euthanasia debate

Dr Ed Walsh, the founding president of the University of Limerick has called for a debate on the issue of euthanasia. Speaking before a gathering of the National Association of General Practitioners, Dr Walsh said the question of how we treat older people at the end of life was an issue to be robustly debated in the same way as divorce and same-sex marriage had been. “I think we have to start debating how we look after our older people when they are reaching the end of life,” he said. “Should they be on a trolley for 19 hours, as a precursor to their death, or can we think of better ways of looking after people who are growing old?”

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Attempt to block European family initiative fails

A move by the European wing of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA Europe) to block a campaign to have Europe legally accept the definition of the natural family unit and marriage as based on one man and one woman has failed. Following the registering of the Mum Dads & Kids initiative with the European Commission, under which the campaign must gain 1 million signatures by December to have its case heard by legislators, ILGA urged the Court of Justice of the European Union to overturn the registration, but failed to convince the court that this should be done. Mum Dads & Kids is a coalition of Christian and pro-family groups in seven countries of the EU.

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Religious freedom under ‘serious, sustained assault’ – report

A new report from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has revealed that religious freedom around the world is under a “serious and sustained assault”, citing both state and non-state actors for a deterioration of religious rights. “From the plight of new and longstanding prisoners of conscience, to the dramatic rise in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, to the continued acts of bigotry against Jews and Muslims in Europe… there was no shortage of attendant suffering worldwide,” the report states.

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Teen birth, abortion rates fall sharply in America

The teen birth rate in the United States is at its lowest level in nearly 75 years, while teen abortion rates are falling steadily, a major new research project has revealed. Undertaken by the Pew Research Centre, the report details the falling birth rate since records began in the 1940s to a low of 25 teen births per 1,000 females in 2014 from a high of 96 per thousand in 1957. Meanwhile, the abortion rate, once at 40.3 per 1,000 in 1990, currently stands at 16.3 per 1,000. The report acknowledges that some of the decline is linked to modern contraceptive medication and abortion, but also that fewer teens are having sex or marrying young.

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Abortion lobby challenges Down Syndrome protection law in US

The American Civil Liberties Union has joined with the largest abortion provider in the United States in a legal action aimed at forcing the state of Indiana to repeal newly enacted legislation to protect unborn children with Down Syndrome. The new law was signed in March by Governor Mike Pence and contains a host of protective measures including the requirement for abortion facilities to annually renew hospital admitting privileges. In addition to Down Syndrome, the law bans abortion based on race and gender.  

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Scottish education chief voices alarm at Green Party plans for Catholic schools

The Catholic Church’s education chief in Scotland has warned that a vote for the Green Party in forthcoming elections is a vote to close Catholic schools. Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said the party wanted to “close schools, and end Catholic schools in Scotland”. “They don’t want Catholic schools and it’s important the electorate know that voting Green means you’re voting to end Catholic schools,” he said. The Greens have acknowledged that they desire greater integration of the Catholic and non-denominational sectors in Scottish schools.

 

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