News Roundup

US Supreme Court divided over nun’s contraceptive mandate case

The US Supreme Court is reportedly divided 4-4 on the issue of religious orders and faith groups being forced to offer contraceptive and abortion cover as part of insurance packages. The court’s indecision arises from a case taken by the Little Sisters of the Poor, who, along with other charitable groupings, are seeking to challenge the requirement contained in the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate.

North Carolina enforces biological-gender restroom use

The governor of the US state of North Carolina has signed a bill effectively barring transgender individuals from using toilets of their preferred gender choice. House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act also enshrines the requirement that local ordinances on ‘non-discrimination’ be passed to the state legislature for ratification, insisting that state law pre-empts the local.

Atlanta Super Bowl bid threatened over religious freedom protection

America’s National Football League (NFL) has threatened to deny the city of Atlanta Georgia a future chance of hosting the sport’s Super Bowl final because legislators there are considering protections for churches and other faith-based groups against claims over opposition to same-sex marriage. Georgia is currently in the running to host the 2019 and 2020 finals.

House of Lords blocks Islamic State ‘genocide’ motion

Britain’s House of Lords has blocked an attempt to enact legislation towards forcing High Court judges to rule on whether Islamic State action against minorities amount to genocide.
In a vote on an amendment to the Immigration Bill currently before the Lords, and tabled by a cross-party group of peers, the move to achieve a genocide label via the courts was struck down by 148 votes to 111. Lord Alton, a leading advocate for minorities suffering under Islamic State rule described the vote as “a lamentable failure” for the British government.

US paediatricians call for rejection of gender ideology

The American College of Paediatricians has called for a rejection of gender ideology as harmful to children. In a broad statement ahead of a full report due this summer, the College “urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality”. The statement also asserts that suicides among those undergoing sex reassignment surgery are 20 times higher than for the wider population.

Doctors in Quebec failing to treat failed suicides

Doctors in the Canadian province of Quebec have been withholding life-saving care from people who are admitted to hospital after botched suicide attempts, it has emerged. Euthanasia has been legal in Quebec since December 2015, and it now appears that some doctors are interpreting suicide attempts with the law in mind, and viewing attempted suicide as an implicit refusal of treatment.

Britain refuses ‘genocide’ label for Islamic State

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged to reconsider his refusal to label Islamic State’s actions against Christians as genocide.
Following appeals by peers in the House of Lords for the British government to take a strong line on the issue, Mr Cameron indicated there is currently no need for such a declaration. In response, Lord Alton, a leading Christian advocate, said that equivocation “while a genocide is underway is morally indefensible”.

Study finds just 1% chance of microcephaly from Zika

A new study has shown that pregnant women who contract the Zika virus have just 1% chance of their babies developing microcephaly. As the Zika virus continues to strike large areas of South America and has re-ignited fierce debates on abortion, researchers have released their findings on a 2013 outbreak of Zika in French Polynesia which challenges the accepted link between the virus and the developmental issues in foetuses. The French Polynesia outbreak infected an estimated 66% of the total population.

Prominent Catholics endorse Ted Cruz for US President

Over 50 conservative Catholic activists and political leaders have voiced their support of Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. The move is being seen as an attempt to attract even greater Catholic support for Mr Cruz to thwart the efforts of Donald Trump towards gaining the presidency in what has become a divisive and heated campaign for the Republican nomination.

Chilean Congress passes abortion bill

Legislators in Chile have passed a bill to legalise abortion in cases of rape, risk to the mother, and foetal abnormality. The lower house of Congress vote on the issue was passed 66 to 44 and now heads to the Senate for a vote. Abortion was legal in Chile until 1989, when it was outlaw by the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. The drive to reintroduce the practice to Chile is backed by the administration of President Michelle Bachelet (pictured).