News Roundup

Massive abortion clinic in Birmingham closes after fifty years

The oldest abortion centre in the UK has closed after fifty years.

The Calthorpe Clinic in Birmingham became the single largest abortion facility in the UK with an annual caseload of around 10,000 clients.

It had a chequered safety record with one of its doctors found guilty of professional misconduct in 2003 after one woman almost died under his care. It is also alleged to have carried out sex-selective abortions.  Many of its clients were Irish.

Christians have prayed and offered help to women outside the clinic for decades.

Rachel Mackenzie who herself once had an abortion at this centre went on to become a regular prayer volunteer outside the gates, said ‘I am so relieved that no more children will have their lives ended here as my son once did.’ Another woman who regretted her abortion there and who also became part of the Christian 40 Days for Life campaign outside the clinic, Linda Hope,  said ‘I want other women to know there’s a better option than that pain. No one told me, so I want to be the voice that tells them’.


Government commissions report on granting more parentage rights to same-sex couples

The Government has tasked its special rapporteur on child protection to examine calls to grant additional parental rights to LGBT couples who use surrogacy and third party sperm and eggs to have children.

Third party gametes deliberately break the natural ties and surrogacy is banned in many countries on the grounds that it exploits women and commodifies children.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has signalled his willingness to amend forthcoming legislation on assisted human reproduction, based on UCC law lecturer Conor O’Mahony’s recommendations.

Many same-sex parents will soon be able to register both of their names on their child’s birth certificate, but that change does not cover same-sex couples using surrogacy and certain other arrangements to have children.

That change will come into effect when Sections 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act are commenced on May 5th next.


Atheist campaign group complains about State funding of chaplains

Campaign groups have criticised the spending of almost €10 million of taxpayers’ money on hiring Catholic and Church of Ireland chaplains for State-run multidenominational secondary schools.

Atheist Ireland says this funding is not being spent in a transparent manner and discriminates against secular and minority faith parents.

The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee is currently investigating the public funding of chaplains in third-level institutions. Atheist Ireland has formally requested that the committee extend its investigation to include the appointment of chaplains to secondary schools.

The appointment of chaplains to ETB schools flows from legally binding agreements with the churches dating back to the 1970s.

These agreements oblige about a quarter of the 270 ETB-run secondary schools to maintain a Catholic ethos and provide students with two hours of religious instruction.


One abortion per day taking place at the Rotunda

One abortion on average is carried out every day at one of the country’s leading maternity hospitals in 2019, the first full year of operation of the country’s new abortion law.

Master of the Rotunda Maternity hospital in Dublin, Fergal Malone, estimated that between 300 and 400 abortions have been carried out in the Rotunda alone over the past 12 months. He said that roughly seven take place every week, with two of these being for apparent fatal abnormalities. Many are performed on the healthy babies of healthy mothers.  About 8,500 births take place at the Rotunda each year.

Each abortion would have occurred at the ninth week or later, as abortions prior to that are initiated at GP surgeries. He admitted that the ‘vast majority’ of abortions are facilitated by GPs via the abortion pill.

Official figures of the total number of abortions carried out in 2019 have not yet been released.

Dr Malone also revealed that one of the main challenges at the Rotunda was when pill-induced abortions failed to complete and the women require scans and follow-up treatment in hospital.


Govt Minister attacks Catholic parish for teaching Catholic beliefs on IVF

A Government Minister has attacked a Catholic parish for explaining Catholic teaching on IVF to other Catholics.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, was responding to a Catholic parish in Tullamore who posted on social media the Church’s opposition to IVF.

Mr Harris described the comments as “extremely hurtful”.

He continued: “I thought and certainly hoped we had moved to a point as a country that this sort of inappropriate interference in decisions that individuals and couples make about their own lives would be left to them”.


Court ruling sparks major row over trans-rights and free speech

A judge in the UK ruled on Wednesday that it was legal for a leading think tank to fire a worker for arguing publicly that biological males who identify as transgender women are not real women. Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, weighed in on behalf of the sacked worker.

The Centre for Global Development (CGD) fired tax expert Maya Forstater in March 2019 over a series of tweets in which she said that “men cannot change into women.”

She sued the CGD on grounds of discrimination, but in a ruling published Wednesday, employment tribunal Judge James Tayler said Forstater’s view is “not a philosophical belief protected by the Equality Act” and “is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

He continued by saying that Forstater “is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

JK Rowling, tweeted in support of Ms Forstater, writing: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like.Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that [biological] sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”.

She has since been denounced by trans activists as a ‘Terf’, or ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’. Well known former athletes Martina Navratilova and Sharon Davies, MBE, have also come to Forstater’s defence.


Women developing complications after using abortion pills

A number of women who have used abortion pills are presenting to hospitals with complications such as bleeding, infection, continuing pregnancy and parts of the foetus being left behind in the woman.

That’s according to a study by St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, that was just presented at the conference of the Irish Congress of Obstetricians, Gynaecology and Perinatal Medicine.

Under the 2018 Abortion Act, women can have a ‘medical’ abortion, as opposed to a surgical abortion, by taking an abortion pill to force a miscarriage, either from a GP up to nine weeks of pregnancy, or at a maternity hospital up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

A separate study showed the new law has led to an increase in abortions by women whose unborn child has been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. The study looked at a sample of mothers with the diagnosis in the first nine months of 2018 with the same length of time in 2019.

In 2018, between January and September there were 67 significant foetal abnormalities diagnosed and six of these were so-called fatal foetal abnormalities.

“There were three terminations of pregnancy for fatal foetal abnormalities, indicating a 50pc rate,” the study by an obstetrician and nurses in Galway University Hospital showed. So far in 2019 there were seven terminations after the same diagnosis – the definite number of cases was still under calculation.

The study concluded the change of the law in 2019 with the implementation of the Act had led to an increase in the number of women affected by this diagnosis who terminate their pregnancies. “This will have service implications for units providing the service,” the conference was told.


Cathedral ISIS destroyed in Iraq to be rebuilt in 2020

An Iraqi Cathedral that was desecrated and burnt by ISIS terrorists is set to be rebuilt in 2020.

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Qaraqosh, southeast of Mosul, was destroyed by the Islamic State after they took control of the region in 2014.

Now, however, parish priest Georges Jahola has announced the Cathedral will be rebuilt with the help of the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need.

Christianity has been present in the Nineveh plain in Iraq since the first century, although it is estimated only 225,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from 1.8 million in 1980.

Another church in the city, the Syriac Catholic Church of Mar Behnam and Mart Sarah, has been restored and rededicated earlier this year on the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.


Kidnapped Nigerian teen refusing to renounce Christianity is a ‘living martyr’

A kidnapped Nigerian teenager who refuses to renounce Christianity has been described as a ‘living martyr’.

Leah Sharibu was among 105 girls kidnapped by Islamic militants almost two years ago.

Since then, all of the girls except Leah have been let go.

The terrorist organisation won’t release her because she refused their demands to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.

Edward Clancy of Aid to the Church in Need has described Leah’s faith in Christ as ‘amazing’.

He told Crux the word martyr is Greek for ‘witness’ and one who witnesses like Leah is a ‘living martyr’.


Publicly-funded IVF service on the way

Plans to provide a publicly-funded IVF service in State hospitals for the first time are to be announced today. It has not been specified whether this will include funding donor-assisted IVF and surrogacy, or whether it will be restricted to those suffering from fertility problems, and whether it will extend to same-sex couples who have no natural means of conceiving children.

The service is likely to come into operation in 2021 after legislation on assisted human reproduction is passed.

Other fertility services currently available in public hospitals are to be widened next year as part of a €2 million initiative while the publicly-funded IVF system is awaited.

Ireland and Lithuania remain the only two EU countries not to offer state funding for assisted reproduction.

Mr Harris is due to update the Cabinet on Thursday on the drafting of a legislative framework for assisted human reproduction.