News Roundup

Child of polyamorous relationship deemed to have three parents by Canadian court

In a first of its kind, all three adult members of a polyamorous ‘thruple’ have been recognized as parents of a child in a court in Canada. The case involved a ‘stable’, three-way relationship between two men and one woman, none of whom are married. A child was conceived in the course of the relationship and, the court heard, while the identity of the mother is clear, the biological father of the child is unknown. Justice Robert Fowler of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court (Family Division) in the case of Re C.C., decided all three adults would be named as parents of the child born within their three-way relationship.

In his ruling, the Judge said: “the child, A., has been born into what is believed to be a stable and loving family relationship which, although outside the traditional family model, provides a safe and nurturing environment…. I can find nothing to disparage that relationship from the best interests of the child’s point of view…. To deny this child the dual paternal parentage would not be in his best interests. It must be remembered that this is about the best interests of the child and not the best interest of the parents.”


Catholic hospitals must provide abortions, says Taoiseach

Catholic hospitals will have to provide abortion services said the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday. In reply to a question from Socialist TD, Mick Barry, Leo Varadkar said the proposed abortion legislation will allow individuals to opt out based on their consciences or religious convictions but will not allow institutions to do so. This means that “hospitals such as Holles Street, which has a Catholic voluntary ethos, the Mater, St. Vincent’s and others will be required and expected to carry out any procedure that is legal in the State.”

He added: “As I indicated when it comes to the abortion legislation, just as is the case with the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act, the conscientious objection will apply to individuals; it will not apply to institutions. Under that legislation, enacted by this Dáil in 2013, voluntary hospitals that have a Catholic ethos are required to provide the service if it is necessary.”

In 2013, both St Vincent’s and the Mater said they would perform abortions on the suicide ground under the terms of the Protection of Human Life During Pregnancy Act.


Referendum to remove offence of blasphemy to be held in autumn

The Government has agreed to hold a referendum later this year on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan brought a proposal to Tuesday’s meeting of the Cabinet and received approval for it. It is expected to be held in October possibly at the same time as a referendum on changing a constitutional clause that protects the right of mothers to support for their work in the home. The votes on the two topics and may coincide with a presidential election, if one takes place.

The Constitutional Convention examined the “mother’s in the home” clause in 2013 and 98 per cent voted in favour of amending the wording to render it gender-neutral. It was also proposed to include other carers both “in the home” and “beyond the home”. Planning for a referendum on that issue is less advanced but the proposal is also expected to be put to voters in October.


Transgender ‘man’ gives birth, sues to not be recorded as child’s mother

A transgender man, who is biologically a woman, and who has given birth to a child, is fighting to not be registered as the baby’s mother. If successful, it is thought that the child would become the first person in Britain to be born without a ‘legal mother’.

Lawyers representing the parent told a High Court judge that the individual was born a woman but “realised he was trans” several years ago. The person has lived “as a man” since then and had undergone surgery to “re-contour” the upper body while still being biologically able to get pregnant and give birth. The individual was granted a gender recognition certificate more than a year ago, legally declaring him to be a man, prior to the birth of the child. Now, he wants to be identified as the child’s “father” or “parent” on the birth certificate. However a birth registrar said the law requires people who give birth to children to be registered as mothers.

Lawyers for the transgender man said forcing him to register as the child’s mother breached his human right to respect for private and family life and added that such “interference” was not proportionate or necessary in the light of changes which had “evolved in society”.


Varadkar and Harris adamant on forcing abortion referrals on doctors

GPs will have to refer patients for abortions even if they conscientiously object to the procedure insisted both Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, yesterday.

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) representing over 2,000 GPs called on the Minister at the weekend to provide for conscientious objection without obligation to refer in his forthcoming abortion legislation. This stance was repeated on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland program on Monday. In response the Minister tweeted: “The idea of a woman in crisis sitting in front of her doctor & her doctor refusing to refer flies in face of care & compassion & is not reflective of doctors I know. People spoke & want women to be cared for. Conscientious objection -yes. No referral or info -no”.

Later in the day, when asked about it at an event in Dublin castle, the Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar, said “What we can’t allow is this suggestion that a GP, if he doesn’t provide the service, would then refuse to refer their patient on to someone who would because essentially that is the equivalent of, ‘you’re on your own, love’ and we’re not going to have that in Ireland any more.”


Pharmacists seek conscientious objection to handing out abortion drugs

Darragh O’Loughlin, Secretary General of the Irish Pharmacy Union has asked Health Minister Simon Harris to extend the right of conscientious objection to pharmacists who do not want to dispense abortion drugs.

“It is essential that such provisions be extended to all healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, and not only to medical practitioners in order to ensure that individual practitioners would not be compelled to participate in a procedure to which they have fundamental religious or ethical objections,” he wrote in a letter to the Minister.

“We are talking about conscientious objection, not conscientious obstruction,” he added.

Mr O’Loughlin said that in Germany, Spain and Portugal, which were all referred to by Minister Harris during the abortion referendum, abortion pills “are provided in hospitals or specialist clinics, rather than in a community setting”.


Canadian man becomes single dad through surrogacy after 8-year quest

A single man in Canada has become a father after an eight year quest that involved five failed surrogacy attempts. Nathan Chan, 33, said he felt the urge to become a parent eight years ago. “I was just a normal guy, working a corporate job, and then I hit 25. Call it paternal or maternal instinct, I said, ‘Hey, this is the right time to become a dad,'” he told Canadian broadcaster, CBC News. When he started down the surrogacy path, however, he quickly encountered lots of obstacles — going through five fertility clinics and five failed surrogacies as well as objections to being a single man wanting to become a father. “Really random comments, like, ‘Why don’t you just go and get a girlfriend’, or ‘Why don’t you wait until you get married,'” he said.

But Chan says it was worth all the effort and pain along the way. “I’ve experienced late-term pregnancy loss with a stillborn and also a miscarriage. So, I’ve just come a really, really long way, and I’m just so grateful for having this day today,” he said.  “It’s really challenging. It was very hurtful.” Chan says that in the wake of the earlier failed attempts at surrogacy, his emotions sometimes got overlooked by people. “Of course I shared this pain with the surrogate mom, the different surrogate moms that have had these losses with me,” he said. “Those kinds of feelings are normally not validated, as a single male.” But in the end, it was with Chan’s sixth surrogate, Crystal Lane, that he was able to become a father. “Crystal was my sixth surrogate mom, and it fortunately worked on the first embryo transfer,” he said.

Mr Chan now runs his own surrogacy consultancy business.


GPs group call for conscientious objection with no referral, Minister Harris refuses

A group representing over 2,000 GPs has called on the Minister for Health to provide for conscientious objection without obligation to refer in his forthcoming abortion legislation. They also asked that he not make abortion part of routine General Practice and that abortion might operate only according to an “opt-in” provision for doctors wishing to provide abortions.

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) held an Emergency General Meeting Saturday in Portlaoise, to discuss issues that may arise for them following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. They passed a motion that the NAGP “should advocate for conscientious objection without obligation to refer. We specifically refer to the Contraceptive Sterilisation Abortion 1977 NZ ACT Sect. 46. We ask that a similar section be inserted into the proposed legislation.” The meeting was attended by about 50 GPs.

However, Minister Harris sent out a tweet also on Saturday saying “Doctors will always be able to opt out & conscientious objection is a long standing principle in medicine & one which will be respected in new law BUT we #Repealedthe8th so we could care for women in our own country and that duty of care in terms of referral will definitely apply.”

The meeting also passed motions saying abortion should not be made part of general care by GPs and that abortion provision should be an opt-in not an opt-out ‘service’.


LoveBoth will not give up on ‘protecting unborn life’

At their first press conference since the referendum result, LoveBoth said they would not give up on “the cause of protecting unborn life” and would work to ensure that any abortion legislation would be as restrictive as possible. Legal adviser to the LoveBoth campaign, Caroline Simons, said in light of the fact that one in three people voted against the proposal and that many of those who voted in favour articulated concerns about the 12 week aspect of the legislation, the Government needed to “look again” at this. An RTE exit poll showed that almost half of those who voted have misgiving about the 12 week provision.

LoveBoth also called on the Government to adopt “eight principles” when drafting legislation for abortion. These included counselling services for crisis pregnancies, allowing conscientious objections by healthcare professionals, emergency care for women in the event of complications following terminations and preventing terminations on the basis of sex or disability. They also called for pain relief for the unborn where there is a risk that they would experience any pain, that healthcare professionals strive to preserve the lives of “babies born alive” following a termination, respectful disposal of foetal remains including banning their sale and the collection and publications of statistics of terminations.

The group said it would work in the long term for a reinstatement of Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. Prof William Binchy said that he believed it would be possible to gain majority support for such a proposal. “I don’t think you could do it tomorrow . . . but I do think that the inherent justice and humanity of not terminating the lives of innocent human beings is so self-evidently right that any human being of goodwill think thinks it through, thinks it through dispassionately over a period of time will realise that abortion is not the solution,” Prof Binchy said.


Call to allow under 16s ‘self-declare’ their new legal gender

The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) has called on the Government to radically liberalise the country’s gender identity laws so that under 16s may “self-declare” their new gender, according to the Irish Times.

Sixteen and 17 year olds have to apply to a circuit court with supporting documentation from two doctors. There is no means for under 16s to change their legally recognised sex. Ireland’s gender recognition law is already one of the most radical in the world.

According to FLAC, the process for 16-17 year olds is “extremely restrictive” and needs to be changed to allow them to “self-declare” the very same as those who have already reached the age of 18. Eilis Barry, chief executive of FLAC, said a legal pathway should also be opened for children under 16 “with the court being required to hold the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration in decision making”.

It was recently reported in the Irish Mail on Sunday that two people who ‘changed sex’ are trying to revert back to their biological sex.