News Roundup

Bishops rue implementation of radical abortion legislation in NI

The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland are “saddened and dismayed” at the implementation of a radical abortion regime in the North, the regulations for which came into effect on Tuesday. It is even more far-reaching than the law in the rest of the UK where there is one abortion for every three births.

In a statement released yesterday, they say the regulations “go far beyond what is legally required by the Northern Ireland Act (2019), (‘the Act’), and utterly ignore the views of many citizens – women and men – who responded to the consultation exercise last December”.

They add that their “implementation will facilitate one of the most liberal abortion regimes anywhere in the world”.

“During the pandemic when so much is being done to protect lives, these regulations do not reflect the overwhelming will of most people in Northern Ireland to protect the life of every human being.”


Porn industry exploits crisis to increase market share

The Porn industry’s leading website have given users in Italy, Spain and France free access to its premium service for a limited time in response to those countries strict national lockdowns. Pornhub’s premium service includes high-speed downloads, no ads, faster streaming, increased video quality and “discreet billing,” plus anytime cancellation.

Pornhub also announced that they would be donating a portion of their profits in March to help Italy during the coronavirus outbreak. According to the company, their numbers spiked after the offer of free premium content, and as of March 17 were up 11.6 percent.

Regarding Ireland specifically, figures obtained by the Sunday Independent show Pornhub reported an almost 20pc spike in searches from Irish people during the emergency, peaking on St Patrick’s Day. Searches containing the word ‘coronavirus’ and ‘porn’ on the site have also become 80pc more popular in the last 30 days, with Ireland being in the top three countries worldwide where those terms were searched.

One Sinn Fein Senator also encouraged the use of porn as an alternative to casual sexual encounters. “Social distancing applies to hook ups and sex. So explore other ways to satisfy your needs. Phone sex, cam-sex, reading erotica, watching porn or just plain old masturbation”, Senator Fintan Warfield wrote on twitter.

He also recommended advice from HIV Ireland whose patron is President Higgins and is funded by various State agencies and private bodies. While first recommending porn, they add: “If you continue to hook-up, consider reducing the number of guys you have sex with.” While underlining that the best thing to do would be “to consider a break from hooking-up”, they add: “we acknowledge that not all of us will be able or want to do so. In that situation consider all of the harm reduction tips above.”


UK Government puts women at risk with abortion U-turn

The UK Government has amended abortion regulations to allow women to take abortion pills at home after a telephone consultation with a doctor. A similar move has taken place in Ireland. This came after the government had initially said just last week that it would not allow the change due to safety and safeguarding concerns. The changes are the most significant change to abortion in England since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967. The amendment, controversially, comes without public consultation or parliamentary debate or scrutiny.

Ryan Christopher, Senior Policy Officer for ADF International in London said the move puts women at risk: “As a society we should support all pregnant women, especially those in difficult circumstances. No mother should ever be made to feel that she is alone and without hope. Allowing unsupervised home abortions puts women across the UK at risk of going through a difficult experience without much needed care, support, and medical expertise.”

“Additionally, the risk of abortions being forced rises significantly if allowed at home. Rather than permitting this, especially in this time of crisis, the government should be using its resources to support both mother and child. We all want a society in which parents feel able to welcome their children into the world,” he said.


No weddings, baptisms, or confession, says Irish diocese

Baptisms, marriages and individual confession will not be held in the diocese of Clogher, it was announced on Saturday, becoming the first Irish diocese to institute such a ban.

Bishop Larry Duffy said he was “saddened to have to take this course of action, but in the prevailing circumstances”, he had no other option. Funeral masses were also banned.

The stricture stands in contrast to the measures ordered by the Italian State on Saturday which said that weddings and baptisms are permitted for tightly limited groups. On weddings, the note from the country’s Interior Ministry said, “Where the rite takes place just in the presence of the celebrants, the couple and their witnesses, and prescriptions regarding distance among participants are respected, it’s not to be considered among the prohibited cases.”


NI Pro-life Group condemns introduction of radical abortion regime

The initiation of a radical new abortion regime in Northern Ireland today has been condemned by the pro-life group Both Lives Matter.

In a statement, the group said the previous law recognised and protected both lives in every pregnancy, saving an estimated 100 thousand people from being aborted.

In its place will be unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy; abortion on undefined mental health grounds up until the twenty fourth week of pregnancy; abortion for ‘serious disability’ up to birth and only limited conscientious protections for some healthcare workers.

Marion Woods, services advocate for Both Lives Matter said the law has changed but their position hasn’t and both lives in pregnancy will always matter. “These are bad laws created through a bad process and in time, the Northern Ireland Assembly can and should restore lost protections and introduce new laws and policies fit for the 21st century. Rather than continue down this path which dehumanises us as women and our preborn children, we must strive to create something truly humane; a new society where every life matters and all life is enabled, and women aren’t told they need to choose between their life and wellbeing and their own child.”


‘Health care cannot be rationed based upon disability’

Health care cannot be rationed based upon the disabilities of patients, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has told hospitals and clinics.

“In this time of emergency, the laudable goal of providing care quickly and efficiently must be guided by the fundamental principles of fairness, equality, and compassion that animate our civil rights laws,” the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) stated in a bulletin on Saturday.

“As such, persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities,” the bulletin states.

On a conference call with reporters on Saturday, the HHS OCR director Roger Severino said that his office had received “several” complaints about state crisis standards of care being developed in response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

As there are now more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S., states are considering “triage” plans in the event that their hospitals and health care systems are overwhelmed by an expected surge in new coronavirus patients.

Such plans would detail how critical care, such as ICU beds and ventilators, would be rationed in such a crisis. However, advocates are sounding the alarm that the plans could be used to deny care to people with disabilities and the elderly, based upon their supposed likelihood of survival.


Elective-abortions deemed non-essential in some US States

Elective-abortions have been included in bans on non-essential medical procedures in numerous US States including Texas, Ohio and Mississippi. Ireland has gone the other way, introducing a temporary measure to allow women to obtain the abortion pill without physically seeing a doctor.
The bans in parts of America have been introduced to save essential medical supplies such as protective personal equipment for doctors and nurses on the frontline of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Pro-abortion groups, however, have claimed the pandemic is being used as an excuse to implement pro-life policies.

Texas included a ban on abortions except where a woman’s life or health are at risk. Pro-abortion groups have nonetheless taken a court case to overturn the order. In response, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said “It is unconscionable that abortion providers are fighting against the health of Texans and withholding desperately needed supplies and personal protective equipment in favor of a procedure that they refer to as a ‘choice’.”

“My office will tirelessly defend Governor Abbott’s Order to ensure that necessary supplies reach the medical professionals combating this national health crisis,” he said.

There are over 1,200 cases of coronavirus in Texas, and at least a dozen people have died.


Radical abortion regime will begin in North next week

One of the most radical abortion regimes in the world is set to go into operation in Northern Ireland from next Tuesday. It will be even more permissive than the one operating in the rest of the UK.
Cllr Anne McCloskey, Deputy Leader of Aontú, said “in these day of fear and uncertainty, when so much effort and resources are being rallied in the effort to preserve human life, when a tiny virus makes us realise how ephemeral is our connection with this earth, it is especially ironic that it is at this point in time that we are planning how to end the lives of individual living human beings.”

Abortion services will be available without restriction until the 12th week of pregnancy, a provision that does not exist in the rest of the UK, until 24 weeks if there is a risk to the woman’s ‘physical or mental health’, and up to birth if the unborn child is suffering a severe foetal impairment such as Down Syndrome, or if the child is thought likely to die, or if there is a risk of death or grave permanent injury to the mother. In addition, abortion will be decriminalised. In other parts of the UK, it is still a criminal offence in certain circumstances.

The Minister of State to the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), Robin Walker MP, said that of the submissions received in a consultation process 79 per cent expressed “a view registering their general opposition to any abortion provision in Northern Ireland beyond that which is currently permitted”.

The North’s first minister, Arlene Foster, said it was a “very sad day for Northern Ireland”.

“I fundamentally reject that Westminster has brought these forward today,” she said. “We have a devolved administration, it should have been a devolved administration that dealt with these issues . . . we will be looking at how we can deal with these issues going forward in the future.”


Irish diocese ends funeral masses amid pandemic

The Catholic Diocese of Down and Connor has announced there will be no funeral Masses held during the coronavirus crisis.

Diocesan spokesman Fr Eddie McGee said Down and Connor took the decision because it is a large urban diocese, covering Belfast, and that holding services in an area with a large, close-quartered population increased the risk of spreading the virus.

Fr McGee said that in Down and Connor wakes were still being held at many deceased people’s homes but generally with just close family attending. In such cases the funeral cortege goes directly to the cemetery from the home.

“Some funeral liturgy resources are provided online so families can offer prayers in the home in the absence of a priest, while in some cases the priest can offer prayers remotely through computer loudspeakers,” he explained.

He predicted that other dioceses would “at some stage” progress to “the same measures as Down and Connor”.

Fr McGee said priests are continuing to administer the last rites to the dying, but while following social distancing rules in so far as possible. This included, he said, saying prayers two meters away from the sick person and applying holy oils using cotton buds rather than a finger.


Harris proposal for ‘home abortions’ will “dramatically increase risks to women” says Pro-Life Campaign

The risks to women will dramatically increase if regulations that require women to see a doctor before using the abortion pill are suspended from the current law, introduced last year.

That’s according to the Pro-Life Campaign who were responding to Minister for Health Simon Harris telling the Dáil last night that he will move to revise the existing ‘Model of Care’ under which a doctor must certify an abortion first.

Minister Harris made his remarks while rejecting amendments from Opposition TDs to the COVID-19 related Emergency Measures Bill, which were along the same lines to what the Minister himself proposed, permitting ‘home abortions’ without any physical consultation between the woman and prescribing doctor.

Responding to the Minister’s dramatic announcement, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:

“It is wholly unacceptable the way Minister Harris slipped in his proposed changes to the Model of Care without any broad or prior consultation. An almost identical proposal to what he presented was roundly rejected earlier this week in Westminster parliament out of concern for the adverse effect it could have on the welfare and safety of women. It was pointed out in that wide-ranging debate that at a minimum before any abortion was signed off on, there should be at least one face to face consultation between the woman and her doctor to ensure there were no issues that could endanger the woman’s health or life.

“Without any reference to concerns like these, Minister Harris told the Dáil last night that for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, he is satisfied that the examination of the woman prior to any abortion as set out in Section 12 of the abortion Act could be ‘carried out by other means, for example, by telemedicine or video conference.’”