News Roundup

Hospice Foundation remains opposed to assisted suicide

The Irish Hospice Foundation has reiterated its opposition to assisted suicide ahead of its biennial conference, starting tomorrow and running over two days.

The chief executive of the IHF, Sharon Foley, told The Irish Times: “I can’t see it [assisted suicide] happening in Irish hospices, no. The palliative care movement has come from a movement of dignity and comforting people at the end of life. So it is anathema to them to be any way cutting across that.”

She said she wanted an “informed debate” about the matter and certain questions need to be asked.

She listed examples: “Have we got sufficient facilities for people to die at home? What facilities are there in nursing homes and hospitals? How are schools supported to help children through grief? What impact does complicated grief, where people may not be able to go back to work, have on the economy?”


Religious faith an advantage for poorer people says new study

Having a religious faith helps to ease the burden of poverty and inequality according to a major new study. The research examines people suffering from low Socio-Economic Status (SES) in poor and rich countries, and finds that socially disadvantaged people in developing countries cope with their situation better.

Levels of religious practice are generally lower in developed countries than in developing ones, and the study claims that the lack of religious practice among poorer people in the developed world means they have worse coping mechanisms than those in poorer parts of the planet.

The researchers say: “This finding suggests that, as national religiosity continues to decline, lower SES will become increasingly harmful for well-being—a societal change that is socially consequential and demands political attention.”

The study draws on data sets consisting of several million people.



Spanish move to list pro-life doctors ‘an attack on conscience rights’

The Spanish Government is moving to compile a list of conscientious objectors to abortion in order to ensure terminations can be readily accessed in public hospitals. Critics say the move may lead to pro-life doctors and nurses not being hired in the first place and is therefore an attack on conscience rights.

“That would certainly be an attack on the freedom of the person,” the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Julian Barrio, told Europa Press this week.

He says: “there should not be” a registry of doctors who do not want to perform abortions, “because freedom of conscience is something that must always be respected”.

Similarly, the Archbishop of Pamplona, Francisco Perez, argued that “conscientious objection is a right and a sign of freedom.”


China takes steps to reduce abortion rate

After a one-child policy lasting 40 years that often included forced abortion, China is now introducing measures to reduce its abortion rate as the country’s population ages rapidly.

The Chinese Government has announced that it wants to slash the number of abortions taking place for non-medical reasons and to encourage fathers to take more responsibility for their children so women don’t feel as much pressure to resort to terminations.

China has also introduced measures to stop gender-selective abortions because the one-child policy was resulting in far more boys than girls being born.


San Marino backs abortion in referendum

The tiny state of San Marino, a landlocked enclave surrounded by Italy, has voted in favour of abortion by 77pc to 23pc.

Voters were asked at the weekend to decriminalise abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks and after that if the mother’s health was at risk, or if foetal abnormalities could cause physical or psychological harm.

The vast majority of Britain’s 200,000 or so abortions annually take place on the ‘health’ ground, usually mental health.

San Marino has 33,000 inhabitants and is 61 square kilometres in size.

In June, Gibraltar voted to legalise abortion where a woman’s ‘mental or physical health is at risk’ or when a foetus has a fatal physical defect, by a margin of 62pc to 36pc.

Gibraltar has a population, like San Marino, of about 33,000 people.


Switzerland votes in favour of same-sex marriage

Switzerland has become the latest country to legalise same-sex marriage. A referendum at the weekend passed by a majority of almost two-to-one. A law permitting same-sex couples to marry is expected to come into force by next summer. Same-sex couples will be permitted to jointly adopt children, and lesbian couples will be given access to donor-sperm.

Opponents of the law say it will deprive children of their right to a mother and a father.


Fathers play vital role, says leading psychologist

Fathers play an “extraordinarily important role” in the lives of their children, one that is distinctive and different from that of a mother, according to one of Ireland’s leading clinical psychologists.

Dr Maureen Gaffney made the remark on RTE radio 1 while promoting her new book ‘Your One Wild and Precious Life.’

She told Brendan O’Connor of the unique contribution of fathers to parenting, and that a child having both a mother and a father is “gold”.

“Fathers have a huge role to play, particularly now as fathers are much more involved in their children’s lives. Fathers, I have a whole chapter on fathers, however your needs are being met, good bad or indifferent by your mother, what your father does really really really counts. He does it differently, he responds to kids sensitively but in a very different way. I watch fathers with their small kids, on the beach or something, all this kind of horse play that goes on. When you go to your father, with one of your little troubles as a child, they listen but not in the same way as your mother and their response is often to try and cheer you up, to distract you, and to spend time, sort of making you feel better about something else. They play an extraordinarily important role, and I hope every father reads about just how important they are.  And of course, they are doubly important if their wives, their partners, find it difficult to respond to the baby.  They can take up the slack and if you have both parents, of course, at your back like that, it’s gold.”


Down syndrome activist says “fight is not over” on UK abortion law

Heidi Crowder and Máire Lea-Wilson are to appeal yesterday’s High Court judgment in London which dismissed their case against the UK government’s discriminatory abortion law that allows abortion up to birth where an unborn baby has a disability, including Down Syndrome.

The two High Court judges held that the particular section of the Abortion Act was not unlawful, and that it aimed to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn child and of women.

After the decision, Heidi Crowder and Máire Lea-Wilson reiterated their view that the law clearly discriminates against people with disability and they vowed to appeal the decision, with Ms Crowter saying, “the fight is not over”.

Ms Crowter, who has Down Syndrome, together with Máire Lea-Wilson, whose two-year-old son Aidan has Down Syndrome, brought the case against the UK government in July, leading to yesterday’s ruling.


Oxford College apologises for hosting Christian conference

An Oxford college has reportedly capitulated to student activism by ‘apologising’ for hosting a training seminar organised by a Christian body.

Authorities at Worcester College, Oxford are reported to have told a student newspaper: ‘The Wilberforce Academy’s views on “reproductive rights” and “conversion therapy” “do not align with our values, and we are aware that the conference’s presence and promotional materials have caused distress to many members of the College.’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, which holds the annual training seminar, said they had no communication from college officials regarding the reports of an ‘apology’ for having hosting them.

“But if the college has turned its back on us, it seems that cancel culture has once again demonstrated the power of its grip in one of our top universities, fueled by a small group of activists who won’t tolerate any view that departs from their own narrow ideology and who will resort to tactics of misrepresentation and sweeping allegations to get their way, seemingly frightening nearly everyone into submission”, she said.


San Marino faces referendum on abortion

A pro-family group has appealed to the people of San Marino to uphold the country’s long-standing protections for unborn life.

This Sunday, a referendum takes place in the tiny State inside Italy on whether to make abortion freely available in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to birth if the unborn child has an anomaly that pose a serious risk to the physical or psychological health of the woman, or if there is a danger to the mother’s life.

The president of the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, Vincenzo Bassi, praised the merits of the current law and said there is a need for more support for motherhood.

“We have a responsibility to recognize the richness of the current San Marino law and to defend it, starting with policies that address the loneliness of families and many women who find themselves in difficulty. Motherhood, despite its many and undeniable complexities, will always remain a joyful responsibility. We must support the awareness of this responsibility and certainly not deny it ”.