News Roundup

University hotel remove Bibles after atheist challenge

A hotel run by Arizona State University (ASU) has been forced to remove the Bible from hotel rooms following an action by an atheist group. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) targeted the hotel arguing that the presence of Bibles in hotel rooms caused offence. The state’s Attorney General, Madeline Ziegler agreed and wrote to the university to warn that making Bibles available “sends the message that ASU endorses the religious texts”. She added that state-run universities have an obligation to remain neutral on religion. This is not the first time the FFRF has sought the removal of Bibles. In 2014, it caused their removal from rooms at hotels linked to Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin.

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Chile stages massive pro-life rally

Citizens in Chile have staged a massive pro-life rally against government plans to legislate for abortion. Taking to the streets of the capital Santiago, tens of thousands of people demonstrated for a reversal of plans by President Michele Bachelet to legalise abortion in cases where the unborn baby has a terminal illness. Pro-life leaders have promised that the issue will become a hot topic for voters in forthcoming elections and warned that those backing the abortion push can expect to suffer at the polls.

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State-funded assisted human reproduction ‘within months’

State-funded fertility treatments, possibly including surrogacy, will be available to childless couples within months. According to The Sunday Independent, guidelines governing controversial fertility treatments are being finalised. It is believed these include issues such as stem cell research and embryo donation for assisted human reproduction. The guidelines will also include surrogacy and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of embryos. Last February, the then Health Minister Leo Varadkar announced new funding proposals for couples unable to conceive naturally. Ireland remains one of three countries in the EU where IVF is not yet funded by the State.
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Children’s health harmed by ‘too busy’ parents

Children’s health may be harmed by parents too busy to be with them, according to a new study. The soon-to-be published study by a team from University College Cork in conjunction with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is expected to report that the struggle for parents to juggle work and home life is detrimental to the wellbeing of children, impacting on both mental and physical health. The authors also call on schools to do more to tackle ill-health among youngsters. The study involved consultations with young people aged 13 to 17 and between eight and 12.
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Pro-life student group reinstated after legal challenge

A student pro-life group has been reinstated on a Canadian campus after its status was removed for communicating “uncomfortable” views. Students for Life was banned from Brandon University in Manitoba by the Students’ Union and only reinstated after it commenced a legal action for the right to be heard on campus.  “As students of Brandon University, we must have the same right as every other fee-paying member of BUSU to participate fully in campus life”, said Students for Life President Catherine Dubois.  “Our club has been repeatedly censored and denied these opportunities offered to every other student. We are tired and frustrated with being treated in such a discriminatory manner.”
The Brandon University case is just one in a number of similar incidents in recent months which have seen pro-life bodies forced to seek legal backing for a right to be present on Canadian campuses.

 

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Pro-Life groups condemn launch of abortion ‘helpline’

Pro-life groups in Ireland have strongly criticised plans by a leading abortion provider in Britain to offer a helpline to women here seeking to use abortion pills. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) says it will offer advice to women who have obtained pills online. In response, the pro-Life Campaign stated: “If BPAS were serious about helping women, they would work on providing alternatives to abortion, which ends the life of an unborn child and very often leaves a woman suffering serious trauma. This helpline is a further attempt by BPAS to ignore the unborn baby entirely and normalise a procedure which is life-ending, not life-saving.” Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Precious Life group said that abortion drugs were not healthcare. “Research has shown, time and time again, that these abortion drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, also endanger women’s lives.”

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California outlaws undercover filming of abortion providers

Lawmakers in California have passed a Bill aimed at preventing undercover filming of abortion facility staff there. In the wake of the expose of abortion provider Planned Parenthood in a ‘body parts for sale’ scandal, an investigation resting on the use of secretly filmed footage, the state’s Senate passed the new legislation by 52-26 votes, making it a criminal offense to secretly record and distribute conversations with a healthcare officials, such as an abortion clinic worker. Offenders face a year in prison and a fine of $2,500. The new legislation will now be passed to Governor Jerry Brown for its final signing into law.

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Ireland records 186 same-sex marriages in first quarter of 2016

Over 180 same-sex marriages were registered in Ireland in the first three months of this year, latest figures reveal. According to the Central Statics Office, of 3,539 marriages conducted in the State in the first quarter of 2016, 186 were between same-sex couples. Many of these were converted Civil Partnerships.

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Activists demand prosecution of four Bishops over gender ideology remarks

LGBT activists in Spain are calling for the prosecutions of four Bishops who voiced objections to new legislation on LGBT rights and protections in the Madrid region. In a statement on the new ‘Law of Integral Protection against LGTBIphobia and Discrimination for Reasons of Orientation and Sexual Identity’, Bishops Juan Antonio Reig Pla, Joaquín María López, and Auxiliary Bishop José Rico Pavés warned that it “seeks to prohibit the public teaching of the Bible”. The statement was supported later by Bishop Demetrio Fernández, who said “gender ideology is an atomic bomb that seeks to destroy Catholic doctrine and the image of God in man and the image of God the Creator”. All four now face demands that they be prosecuted for hate speech in a Spanish court.

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Mass graves reveal scale of Islamic State slaughter of religious minorities

A major investigation of mass graves in Syria and Iraq by The Associated Press (AP) has uncovered the scale of killings by Islamic State (IS) of Christians and other minority groups. The agency claims to have found at least 72 mass graves already – with more set to be uncovered – which contain the remains of thousands of people summarily executed by the militant group since its emergence in 2014. The number of dead is estimated at anywhere between 5,200 to 15,000 so far, including women and children. Sinjar Mountain, where thousands of Yazidis sought shelter from the onward drive of IS is, says AP “dotted with graves”.

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