News Roundup

Report finds multiple dangerous failings at Marie Stopes clinics

A report on Britain’s biggest abortion provider has revealed a raft of dangerous and questionable practices at its clinics across the country. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have detailed numerous failings at Maries Stopes clinics, including staff “bulk signing” consent forms, limited clinical oversight, poorly trained staff, and at least one case in which a vulnerable woman was given a termination despite not understanding what was going on. And in one clinic, obtaining consent was left to nurses and healthcare assistants, in breach of laws which state this should be done by doctors. Just last August, Marie Stopes suspended all terminations involving general anaesthetic and sedation, and all involving under 18s, after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised safety fears.

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Italian Bill seeks to remove ‘fidelity’ from marriage contracts

Supporters of a new marriage Bill in Italy hope to see ‘fidelity’ removed as a condition of marriage contracts, arguing that faithfulness in marriage is “outdated and obsolete”. The Bill is being pushed by lobbyists who want to see marriage contracts altered in line with those of same-sex civil unions, which do not contain any reference to fidelity. Ironically, this omission caused outrage among the gay community who said the lack of a fidelity element offered their unions less than parity with heterosexual ones. The new Bill has already passed through the Senate en route to a debate in Parliament.

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Very few opt out of religious classes in faith schools – studies

Only a very small minority of pupils in Catholic schools opt out of Religious Education classes, according to a submission to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) have shown on the teaching of world religions in school. As the NCCA presses on with plans to introduce its Education about Religions and Beliefs and Ethics (ERB and Ethics) class to Irish schools, the Catholic Primary Schools Managers Association (CPSMA) has submitted the findings of a study conducted among the 2,800 schools it controls to reveal that a “relatively small number” of pupils opt out of religion classes. Meanwhile, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin revealed, on foot of a study conducted in schools in his diocese that just 1.2% opt out. Bishop Nulty said: “I remain convinced that the proposed education about Religions and Beliefs and Ethics is not the approach required for those children in faith-based schools.” The CPSMA meanwhile warned that the ERB and Ethics course would undermine the characteristic spirit of schools, and cause a rise in the number of Catholic parents opting out of the new subject.

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Report paints damning picture of US abortion clinics

Abortion clinics across the United States have been accused of “sacrificing” women for profit in a new report on the industry. Compiled by Americans United for Life (AUL), the study charts medical violations at clinics across 32 states to highlight “unsanitary medical conditions, unlicensed practitioners and untrained staff”. The report offers a ‘Top 10’ violations list, which includes ‘Failure to ensure a safe and sanitary environment and failure to follow infection control policies; Unlicensed/unqualified/untrained staff providing patient care, and Expired medications and medical supplies’. Unveiling the report, its author Denise Burke said: “The abortion industry willingly sacrifices women’s health and safety in their ‘back alley’ clinics, prioritising mere access to abortion over women’s health and safety. Women’s health and safety must not be held hostage by an abortion industry willing to put profit over people.”

 

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Faith schools admission not affected by forthcoming legislation

New school admissions legislation will not affect the right of faith-based schools to prioritise children of their faith community in the event of over-enrolment. Groups including Educate Together and Atheist Ireland took their complaints about the policy to an Oireachtas education committee despite it being previously pointed out by the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association that the claim that 20pc of primary schools are oversubscribed is hugely exaggerated and the real figure stands at between 3 and 6% – based in a recent survey of diocesan education secretaries.

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Italy’s abortion numbers hits historic low

Abortion figures in Italy have hit their lowest point since terminations were legalised in 1978. In a report compiled by the nation’s Ministry of Health, the number of abortions in Italy for 2015 stood at less than 90,000. This was a massive drop from the 1983 high of 234,801 terminations. A big part of the reason for the drop is the very big drop in the number of pregnancies in Italy overall. The report further pointed out that the ratio of abortions to live births was 185.1 per 1,000, a decrease of 5.7 percent from 2014, according to the report. Italy allows for abortion for any reason up to 90 days of pregnancy, later where the woman has a physical or mental risk or where the unborn baby has a deformity. The decrease in abortions has been revealed as it emerged that even more Italian doctors are citing conscience grounds for refusing terminations, with seven in 10 reportedly doing so in 2015.

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Anti-Christian violence ‘on the rise in Europe’

Anti-Christian intolerance and violence are  on the rise in Europe, the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has warned. In an address to a conference in Vienna, Austria on ‘Combating Intolerance and Discriminations of Christians’, Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk said that while “the OSCE area does not witness blatant and violent persecutions of Christians, as sadly other parts of the world currently do…manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase…Moreover, offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.” The monsignor went on to “call upon participating States to act resolutely to protect Christians in their territories and to address properly, including by adequate legislative measures, all cases of intolerance, discrimination, hate crimes, and violent incidents against Christian individuals, communities and places or objects of worship”.

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Britain’s fertility watchdog clears the way for three-parent babies

Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given approval for the creation of three-parent babies. In what was the last hurdle for the medical technique, described as ‘editing’ of human DNA, the HFEA cleared the way for the first three-parent babies to be created in 2017, making Britain the first country to officially licence the procedure. The treatment, mooted as a ‘sidestepping’ of  inherited mitochondrial defects in a woman’s eggs sees doctors remove the nucleus from the mother’s egg, place it in a healthy donor egg, then fertilise it. In response to the move, the Christian Institute reiterated its warning of the as yet unseen effects of tampering with the human reproductive line. “There are very real safety fears because the genetic changes will be passed down the generations. No-one knows if this is safe,” said Humphrey Dobson, the institute’s deputy director.

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Warning issued on children’s unmonitored access to the internet

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has sounded a warning over children’s unsupervised access to the internet. Following a survey of young people and their internet habits, the organisation found that online activity goes largely unmonitored, placing children at risk. The ISPCC warned of an increase in the number of children engaging with strangers online. The survey further revealed that many children believe the purpose of social media is to insult others and that this is normal behaviour. ISPCC CEO Grainia Long said: “Evidence from our services shows the scale and nature of online activity by children and young people, and how much work is needed to keep them safe online. Cyber safety is the child protection issue of our time; we are only beginning to understand the scale and nature of harm and criminal behaviour towards children online.”

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South African euthanasia ruling overturned

A South African court ruling on euthanasia which had broad implications for the country has been overturned on appeal. In 2015, the nation’s High Court ruled in favour of a man seeking to die by assisted suicide, signalling a challenge to the constitutional protection for the right to life. However, the plaintiff died before the court’s ruling could be enacted and the South African government then launched an appeal to the Appeals Court. That court has now ruled that “the claim ceased to exist once the applicant died before the order could be granted” and that euthanasia remains “illegal and prosecutable”. Reacting to the successful appeal, Justice spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said: “The Ministers of Justice and Minister of Health are relieved that the order was set aside given the far-reaching implications the judgment had on the constitutionally-entrenched right to life”.

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