News Roundup

Having 10 or more sex partners linked to far higher risk of cancer

Researchers in the UK found that having 10 or more sexual partners over a lifetime almost doubled the risk of a woman developing cancer, and raised it by two thirds for men.

In addition, the study reported women with a higher number of sexual partners have heightened odds of a chronic health condition, though the same was not found in men.

The study, published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, draws on information from almost 6,000 respondents to an English longitudinal study on ageing.

As an observational study, it cannot establish cause. Nevertheless, the authors say their findings chime with those of previous studies implicating sexually transmitted infections in the development of several types of cancer and hepatitis.

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Data protection complaint against Church over baptismal records

The Catholic Church in Ireland is facing a data protection inquiry over its failure to delete records under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as requested by people who have renounced the religion.

Under GDPR, entities can be fined up to €10m or up to 2% of their global turnover for serious data protection breaches.

Marty Meany, editor of the tech website Goosed.ie, decided that he wanted to leave the church and have his baptismal record erased in the aftermath of the May 2018, abortion referendum. He wrote to the bishop of Ossory seeking to have his data deleted. The bishop, Dermot Farrell, responded, saying that while he respected the decision and it was noted on the diocese’s register, it was not possible to delete Meany’s name from baptism and confirmation registers or to annul the fact that he received these sacraments. “Church registers are documents of historic and archival significance,” said Farrell.

Meany initiated a complaint with the DPC on July 4, 2018. It has been assessing the complaint, along with others of a similar nature, and told Meany it had sought external legal advice. Under the Data Protection Act, the right to be forgotten may not apply to some information used for archival or historic research purposes.

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‘Maternity Units are part of an appalling legacy of neglect’ – PLC

Fifteen of the State’s 19 Maternity Units are operating in sub-standard conditions, according to a report published by the Health and Information Authority (Hiqa) yesterday.

The report also found that the ten year National Maternity Strategy was grossly underfunded.

Róisín Molloy, whose newborn son Mark died in 2012 as a result of failings in Portlaoise hospital, said babies would continue to die unless a new government properly funds the strategy.

It was previously reported by the Irish Times that monies ringfenced for it were diverted to pay for the State’s new abortion regime.

Spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign, Eilís Mulroy, said that the Hiqa findings have exposed an appalling legacy of ministerial and government neglect.

“It is an absolute scandal that abortion which has nothing to do with genuine healthcare was prioritised over safeguarding the lives of pregnant women and their babies,” she said.

“We need to re-focus on delivering the best care possible for mothers and babies and to avoid the ongoing rush to prioritise abortion funding to the clear detriment of mothers, babies and staff,” concluded Ms Mulroy.

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Council of Europe passes resolution protecting religious freedom in the workplace

A resolution on the protection of freedom of religion and belief in the workplace was passed by the Council of Europe last week. The Council is the continent’s leading Human Rights body uniting 47 member states, 27 of which are also members of the EU.

 The resolution calls on member states to “take all necessary measures to combat discrimination based on religion or beliefs in all fields of civil, economic, political and cultural life”. It also asks them “to promote the work of national human rights institutions on combatting discrimination, including indirect discrimination based on religion or belief, and encourage them to develop training activities for both public and private employers”.  

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Thousands seek relationship help from Bishops’ marriage service, Accord figures show

Thousands of Irish people continue to avail of the services of the marriage agency of the Catholic Bishops, but the number is falling.

Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin unveiled the 2019 figures for Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service on Tuesday.

Nearly 15,000 people attended their Sacramental Marriage preparation courses, and 24,000 sessions of marriage and relationship counselling were provided for individuals and couples. However, both figures show a decline from previous years.

The number of Catholic weddings has been dropping steadily in Ireland for decades, with next year due to be the first on record where non-religious weddings outnumber Catholic ones. Under 4 per cent of marriages were non-religious in 1990, whilst over 93 per cent were Catholic. By 2018, the number of couples choosing a non-religious ceremony had climbed to 39 per cent, with only 48 per cent choosing to enter into a Catholic marriage.

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French Senate votes to enable the use of IVF to create fatherless children

The French Senate has adopted a draft bioethics law by a relatively small margin of 10 votes. Among other things, the bill enables the use of donor sperm by single women and female couples to create children who would be raised without a father. Some of the more extreme elements of the bill have been moderated and it now goes back to the lower house, the National Assembly, where President Macron’s Government command a majority.

The bill has faced significant public protests with tens of thousands of people marching against it in Paris. A nationwide “consultation” through official public meetings and via an internet platform found 80 percent of the participants were against its signature elements. It has also been attacked by the National Academy of Medicine in France which said the deliberate conception of a child deprived of a father constitutes a major anthropological break, which risks the psychological development of the child.

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First same-sex legal marriage takes place in NI

A female same-sex couple took part in the first same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland since MPs in Westminster imposed a redefinition of marriage on the North while the Northern Assembly was not sitting.

Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, made the legal contract at a ceremony in a hotel in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, Monday.

The day marks their sixth anniversary as a couple and they had booked a civil partnership ceremony at the Loughshore hotel months before Westminster MPs passed the legislation last summer.

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Domestic abuse victims in NZ call for end to ‘no-fault’ divorce settlements

Women who have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to abusive ex-husbands if they stay in their family home after a divorce say the law is retraumatising domestic violence victims. A lawyer says New Zealand’s ‘no-fault’ 50-50 divorce settlements do not reflect the damage inflicted by family violence.

One woman had been married for more than 40 years before her violently abusive husband divorced her in 2016. She described the legal process as an abomination. “He refused to contribute, but now he’s using the court as his weapon of choice to force me to pay property division of 50-50,” she said.

Divorce lawyer Jeremy Sutton said there’s a no-fault principle that underpins the Property Relationships Act so there is no difference to a settlement whether there’s been domestic violence or not.

“There’s been calls for them to focus on fault and misconduct so that a party who has committed serious or gross domestic violence may get less than for example 50 percent of the property pool,” he said.

“There’s a growing awareness that family violence has ongoing economic consequences for the victim of any violence, and by not penalising violence in division, the law effectively transmits the message that the behaviour’s got no impact on the contributions to the marriage of each spouse.”

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UK County Council risks court over primary school sex ed policy

A County Council in the UK is on the brink of a legal challenge over a controversial policy for implementing Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in primary schools under its care.

Lawyers acting on behalf of The Christian Institute have written to Warwickshire Council contending it has failed to “take into account and give proper weight” to its duties under the Equality Act 2010, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Education Act 1996.

The Council’s RSE Policy for primary schools incorporates and promotes the All About Me programme. Among its assertions are that gender identity “can be best understood as being a spectrum” and “transgender children have the right to use whichever toilet or changing room they feel most comfortable using”.

It encourages schools not to inform parents if their children are sharing rooms with transgender pupils and to conceal a child’s transgender status from their own parents – contrary to parental rights which are protected under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Whilst making no reference to marriage, it is claimed that lesson materials encourage masturbation and include “gratuitously graphic” sexual images, contrary to the Education Act 1996 and despite the lessons not being classed as sex education.

The letter warns the Council that it cannot lead schools to evade their duties under the Act “by teaching sexually explicit materials under the heading of another subject”, pointing out that “if the content is sexually explicit it must be sex education” however it is labelled.

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All 15 TDs who voted against abortion legislation got re-elected

All 15 TDs who voted against the radical abortion regime of the outgoing Government last December 2018 have been re-elected to Dáil Éireann.

On the other hand, some of the most vocal supporters of that law have lost their seats or failed to be elected as TDs.

Denise Kelly of the Pro-Life Campaign welcomed the news as “truly uplifting”.

“Some had their chances of re-election completely written off by the media, others had to overcome huge opposition within their parties because of their pro-life stance – all of them deserve our heartiest congratulations for standing up for life and prevailing”, she said.

“It is important to mention that other candidates were also elected who are solidly pro-life. Together, they have shown the leadership of the main political parties that the electorate appreciate people who stick to their principles and don’t waver under pressure”.

The pro-life TDs who voted against the abortion law and were returned to their seats are Michael Collins, IND, Cork South West; Michael Fitzmaurice, IND, Roscommon/Leitrim; Peter Fitzpatrick, IND, Louth; Noel Grealish, IND, Galway West; Michael Healy Rae, IND, Kerry, and his brother Danny Healy Rae, IND, Kerry; Michael Lowry, IND, Tipperary; Mattie McGrath, IND, Tipperary; Carol Nolan, IND, Laois-Offaly; Peadar Tóibín, Aontu, Meath West; Mary Butler, FF, Waterford; Eamon O Cuiv, FF, Galway West; John McGuinness, FF, Carlow/Killkenny; and, Marc MacSharry, FF, Sligo/Leitrim.

Pro-abortion candidates who lost election included Kate O’Connell FG; Lisa Chambers, FF; Ruth Coppinger, PBP; Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, FG; Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, Ind, and Senator Catherine Noone, Joan Burton and Jan O’Sullivan of Labour. Timmy Dooley, FF, and Noel Rock, FG.

In particular, in a new five seat constituency that amalgamated two previous three seaters, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy in Laois/Offaly, who was a outspoken supporter of repeal lost her seat to Carol Nolan who resigned from Sinn Fein due to her principled opposition to abortion. In Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchell O’Connor (‘pro-choice’ and pro-repeal’) failed to hold her seat, which went to pro-life TD, Cormac Devlin of Fianna Fáil.

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