News Roundup

Council of Europe Report recognises harm of child exposure to pornography

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has unanimously adopted a Report on “The protection of children against online violence”.

It treats child exposure to pornography as a type of online violence that children are particularly vulnerable to as they watch it massively and suffer serious consequences.

Written by Irish Senator Joseph O’Reilly of Fine Gael, the text says that “Preventing the exposure of children to pornography is particularly important, given the established effects on behaviour and development”.

It notes that “pornography consumption [is] significantly associated with an increase in verbal and physical aggression”. It also highlights the existence of “a link between pornography consumption and compulsive sexual behaviour disorder” and “a correlation between pornography and sexual violence between young people”.

It also states that “Pornography must be understood as a public health issue, for which States are responsible for taking appropriate measures, including education and awareness-raising measures”.

It now goes to Committee of Ministers to act on it.


Biden administration redefines sex discrimination to include ‘gender identity’

Landmark US civil rights legislation protecting women from sex discrimination has been redefined to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s “gender identity” instead.

This means rules that used to protect women and girls’ spaces from men might now be used to ensure biological males who identify as women can access those same spaces.

It is unclear how this will be applied to female bathroom and changing areas and to female sports competitions.

The new interpretation of the Title IX protections, issued by the US Department of Education on Friday, April 19, apply to all schools and universities that receive federal funding.

According to the executive, such educational institutions cannot carry out “different treatment or separation on the basis of sex,” which includes a prohibition on any policy or practice that “prevents a person from participating in an education program or activity consistent with their gender identity.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Rachel said, “the Biden administration’s radical redefinition of sex turns back the clock on equal opportunity for women, threatens student safety and privacy, and undermines fairness in women’s sports.”


Facebook restricts posts of The Irish Catholic newspaper

Facebook has restricted two of The Irish Catholic newspaper’s posts saying they are suspected of breaching ‘hate speech’ and ‘violence and incitement’ community standards respectively even though the two posts did no such thing.

The first post linking an article with the headline ‘Priest will continue blessing planes despite airport ban’, was flagged for potentially going against their standards for ‘violence and incitement’.

The second post, highlighting the Catholic Education Partnership’s (CEP) stance on defending the integrity of faith-based programmes in Catholic schools which ran under the headline ‘Catholic schools staunch on religious cert requirements as INTO put on pressure’ was flagged as potentially contravening their ‘Hate speech’ standards.

Facebook states: “We define hate speech as language that attacks people based on their: Race, ethnicity, national origin or caste; Religious affiliation; Sexual orientation; Sex, gender or gender identity; Serious disabilities or diseases.”

A review has been requested by The Irish Catholic but no response has yet been received. There was also no response from their press office.


More than 400 referrals made for State-funded fertility treatment since September

There have been more than 400 referrals for State-funded fertility treatment to date, as Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said eligibility for the scheme will be expanded.

Since last September, the Government has provided funding totalling €30 million for the year for procedures like IVF. The average success rate per cycle of IVF is about one in three but this varies greatly by age. IVF often creates ‘spare’ embryos that are often left frozen indefinitely or are destroyed.

Speaking at the unveiling of the Women’s Health Action Plan 2024-2025 on Thursday, Mr Donnelly said the participants had been referred to private clinics for the State-funded treatments.

He added the use of private centres was necessary until a public service could be built up.


Brazilian doctors ban injecting unborn babies with poison after 22 weeks

Brazil’s bishops welcomed a new resolution of the Federal Medical Council (CFM) determining that doctors must not induce cardiac arrest on an unborn child over 22 weeks gestation.

The abortion method involves an injection of potassium chloride into the unborn child’s heart to stop it, causing the foetus to die. The remains are then removed from the mother’s uterus.

It is used in Ireland in later term abortions, particularly where the unborn child is suffering a from a condition that it likely to mean they will die within 28 days of birth.

The new norm, however, is being challenged by prosecutors and legislators and may not last too long.

On March 21, CFM published the resolution 2378/2024, which states that physicians are “prohibited from carrying out the fetal asystole procedure, a medical act that causes feticide, prior to pregnancy termination procedures in cases of abortion provided for by law, that is, a fetus resulting from rape, when there is a probability of fetal survival at gestational age above 22 weeks”.


Abortion law change unlikely before next general election

Senior Government sources have been reported as saying that further change in abortion law is unlikely before the next general election.

Sources cited by the Irish Times confirmed that Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, is working on an “options paper” to address the findings of an Oireachtas Health Committee report into a Review of the operation of the abortion law that recommends radical changes.

This will be brought to the Cabinet Committee on Health where Ministers will discuss the proposals.

There is a growing reluctance within the Coalition, however, around making further changes, with one senior source saying it is hard to envisage any major change prior to the general election. Another Government source said they were not sure how much appetite there is for legislative change.

“There’s a clear view in Government that it’s important to respect what people voted for as part of Repealing the Eighth (Amendment), while doing everything possible for women who need to use termination services,” a source said.

There is also a view within the Coalition that people are more worried about access to public services, the cost of living, housing and climate change.


Refusal to use ‘preferred pronouns’ not ‘unlawful discrimination’, admits University

South East Technological University (SETU) will no longer punish students or staff as having broken the law if they do not use the preferred pronouns of transgender persons.

It has dropped references in its updated gender identity policy which previously stated that refusal to use students’ or staff members’ preferred pronouns would amount to “unlawful discrimination or harassment”.

The policy sparked controversy when it was published last October, with one lecturer, Colette Colfer, stating that it was a misinterpretation of equality laws and could itself discriminate against those “who do not subscribe to gender identity theory”.

Colfer, a lecturer in world religions, said she welcomed the change.

SETU’s updated gender identity and expression policy now states that all staff and students are expected to avoid “unacceptable behaviours” such as, “repeatedly referring to a person by using names or pronouns with which they do not identify, in circumstances where the person has communicated their preference”.

It does not reference the refusal to use preferred pronouns as unlawful.


Ukrainian Christians face violent crackdown from Russian forces, says new report

Tens of thousands of Christians from churches independent of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch have been forced to flee occupied areas of Ukraine, according to a new report aired on America’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Simon Ostrovsky of PBS NewsHour said that since the start of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of the country, Russian forces have cracked down on evangelical congregations, Ukrainian Orthodox churches, and other denominations Russia sees as undesirable.

In a sweeping campaign that has seen at least 206 churches closed, destroyed, or expropriated, religious leaders have been kidnapped, tortured, and banished. Some 29 are believed to have been killed.

Meanwhile, the prominent religious freedom advocate, Nina Shea, says credible reports on Russia-occupied Ukraine validate the fears of Ukrainian religious leaders that a victorious Russia would “crush their religious institutions”.


Senator Mullen calls for investigation over ‘pro-abortion bias’ at RTE

An independent Senator has echoed the calls of the Pro Life Campaign for a special Oireachtas committee to examine the issue of bias and impartiality in RTE particularly in regard to its coverage of abortion.

 Senator Ronan Mullen said an “RTÉ Investigates” programme that was aired Monday night was “shocking for its one-sidedness and bias and its complete failure to depict another side of an important and distressing story”.

Calling it a “propaganda piece”, he said “pro-abortion activism was at the core of this programme”, with prominent activists centre stage, yet depicted simply as experts.

“There was no mention of this spiralling abortion rate and no mention of questions around precautionary pain relief in late-term abortions. We heard euphemistic language about what happens to a disabled or severely disabled child in a late-term abortion but no focus on the reality of what happens to the baby in that dreadfully tragic situation.”


Pro-life speaker requires police protection from angry students

A group of angry pro-abortion demonstrators forced local police to intervene at the University of Manchester to provide an escort to a pro-life speaker, who also had to take transport to a different location to her accommodation because of concerns about her safety.

For the second time this year, police had to be called to protect pro-life students from a barrage of abuse and physical intimidation by pro-abortion student protesters at the university after Madeline Page, CEO of the Alliance of Pro-life Students (APS), delivered a talk titled “Grill the pro-lifer”.

As Page left the talk with a police escort, a large mob of students followed her down the road screaming abuse at her, forcing her to change her travel arrangements because of concerns about further escalation. Video footage shows the mob hurling abuse and attempting to intimidate the pro-life speaker; many of the protesters are fellow young women, though wearing face masks, while putting up a middle finger toward the camera.