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A court in the US state of Washington has ruled that pharmacists do not have a right of conscience on the issue of dispensing so-called 'emergency contraception' which can also act as an abortifacient. In Ireland, pharmacists are already denied this right. The ruling, by a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned a 2012 judgement which had vindicated pharmacists' religious freedom in the area of conscience specifically in the area of 'emergency contraception', such as the morning-after pill.
Australia's Labour Party has voted to remove any conscience clause for members on the issue of same-sex marriage by 2019. A substantial number of Labour party parliamentarians, especially from New South Wales, are opposed to same-sex marriage. Amid the ongoing debate on redefining the country's marriage laws, representatives of the party, currently in opposition, met during the party's annual conference in Melbourne to discuss supporting same-sex marriage and requiring all its members to row in behind such a move, finally deciding to champion a redefinition of marriage once in government.
A law banning commercial surrogacy in Thailand has come into effect. In the wake of two controversial cases involving Thai surrogate mothers in 2014, the government acted in February to introduce new measures to curb the trade in 'renting' the wombs of surrogate mothers.
A drift towards a more liberal abortion regime in Ireland has reversed, a new study has revealed. According to a Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) poll for The Sunday Times newspaper, figures supporting a more liberal abortion regime in this country have slipped since the same research was conducted in 2013. Where the B&A found, in January 2013, in the wake of the tragic death of expectant mother Savita Halappanavar, that 80% of respondents to its poll were in favour of a termination in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality, the latest poll reveals a full 10-point drop to 70%. A similar drop is evident among those supporting abortion in the cases of rape and incest, down 7 points, also to 70%.
The number of under-age girls in Britain receiving contraceptive implants and injections has nearly tripled over the last 10 years. According to the latest figures from the country's National Health Service (NHS), 8,400 girls aged 15 years and younger received such contraceptive treatments, a leap from 3,100 for the year 2004-2005.
The largest provider of abortion facilities in the United States is facing a federal investigation and calls for its defunding following the release of two undercover videos allegedly showing members of the group negotiating the sale of foetal body parts. Two members of Planned Parenthood were captured on film by pro-life advocates posing as representatives of a medical research company.
A man suffering locked-in syndrome in Britain has failed in a legal bid to have medical guidelines changed to allow him to avail of assisted suicide. The patient, identified only as Martin, had brought a case before the High Court in an attempt to force a change to current General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines on patient care. Counsel for Martin argued that the guidelines unfairly restricted him, on the basis that they interfered with his right to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Italy has been criticised by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for its 'failure' to recognise in law the status of same-sex couples. In a ruling arising from a case taken by three same-sex couples who argued that Italy was engaging in discrimination against them for its stance, a seven-judge panel of the ECHR ruled that Italy should move towards greater rights for gay couples to bring it into line with the rest of the EU. Italy remains the only nation in Europe not to recognise civil partnerships.
The Irish Government is to allow adopted people to access their birth certificates for the first time under legislation currently being drafted. According to a report in The Irish Times, the passage of the proposed Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill could affect as many as 50,000 people who have till now been denied access to the documentation recording their birth parents' details due to legal wrangles. The Bill seeks to create an 'adoption information register' to be maintained by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Freedom of religion is "the key human right", Britain's House of Lords has heard. During a debate on the question of Britain affording extra emphasis to the issue of religious freedom, peers heard of numerous violations of religious freedom internationally, contravening Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which bestows the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” both in public and private.
The number of marriages in Ireland rose last year, with traditional church ceremonies still the most popular choice for intending couples. According to the Annual Report of the Registrar General for 2014, some 22,033 marriages were recorded for the year, a 6.6% increase over the figure of 20,670 in 2013. However, the latest figures were compiled both against civil ceremonies and in the first full year in which secular marriage ceremonies were recognised in law. The report therefore sets the 14,972 traditional church weddings against 6,167 civil ceremonies, divided between registrars’ offices and a variety of other venues, such as hotels and stately homes.
The Pro-Life Campaign (PLC) has accused the Government of neglecting patient safety over a rush to introduce abortion legislation. Reacting to media reports of an alleged war of words between the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and the Health Service Executive (HSE) over failure to implement patient safety recommendations handed down in the wake of the death, by sepsis, of Savita Halappanavar, the PLC's Cora Shelrock described as “a scandal” the two-year delay since the expectant mother's death for new safety guidelines to be introduced when abortion legislation was drawn up much faster arising from the same case.
The US state of California has shelved plans to introduce physician-assisted suicide after legislators conceded they could not gain sufficient votes to progress their Bill. The failure of the Bill, SB128, has been welcomed by opponents of assisted suicide in California, which includes doctors and palliative care professionals as well as Catholic groups and disability rights groups.
Pro-life demonstrators in the United States have been threatened in two separate gun incidents. In the first incident, police in Tennessee, moved to detain Derrick Doss outside the Bristol Women's Clinic following reports he had waved a gun at demonstrators. According to witnesses cited in Lifesite News, Doss had earlier walked with a female companion into the clinic past the demonstrators. When he left alone, he walked to his car and retrieved a gun there and approached the same demonstrators and brandished the weapon at them, reportedly cocking the gun, before once more entering the clinic.
Ireland was one of fourteen countries that voted against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution called on countries to protect the family as the “natural and fundamental group unity of society”. Citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a sitting of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva voted 29 to 14, with four abstentions, in favour of the 'Protection of the Family' resolution, requiring countries to offer increased protections for the family unit.
The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015, aimed at weakening the right of religious-run schools to protect their ethos from staff who would undermine it, has passed the final report stage. The Bill is designed to ensure that gay staff in schools can speak about their relationships in the same way as other staff. If subsequently passed by the Dáil into law, the Bill will directly affect Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Act which currently protects the right of religious-run schools to dismiss staff whose actions contravene an institution's ethos.
The Australian state of Victoria is to allow all donor conceived people there to identify the egg or sperm donor involved in their birth. Having lifted some restrictions at the start of July to allow for people born as a result of sperm and egg donations after January 1, 1998 to fully access donor details such as name, date of birth and ethnic origin, the state has decided to extend this right to those whose birth resulted from any donation made since 1988, in the wake of criticism of the seemingly arbitrary nature of the time frame involved.
A major shift in faith away from Catholicism in Latin America towards Protestantism is ongoing, according to a new survey. As Pope Francis began his official visit to Latin America, home to over 425 million Catholics, the Pew Research Centre on Religion and Public Life has revealed an ongoing surge of Catholics from the Church towards Protestant denominations, in particular Pentecostalism, across the region, with nearly one in five people today in the surveyed countries identifying as Protestant.
France is to officially recognise children born by surrogacy abroad following a landmark court ruling. Critics of the latest judgement in France have described it as a major step backwards for France and children, with one prominent opponent, Ludovine de La Rochère, president of La Manif Pour Tous, stating after the ruling: “The judges have acknowledged that a child can be the subject of a contract even before its conception, reducing it to a thing that can be bought or sold.”
A 70-year-old pro-life demonstrator has been hospitalised after an unprovoked assault in Australia. The victim, identified only as Greg and a member of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants group, was undertaking a peaceful protest outside the Fertility Control Clinic in Albury, New South Wales, when he was approached by a younger man who begins to argue with Greg before assaulting him.
Mexico's Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez is facing a raft of criminal complaints launched by gay advocates following his outspoken defence of traditional marriage. In the wake of Mexico's Supreme Court ruling that all states in the nation should legislate for same-sex marriage, Cardinal Sandoval addressed the move in a televised speech on Catholic television, denouncing the decision while accusing the Supreme Court of attempting to “destroy marriage”.
Ireland now offers more 'emergency' terminations per year than England and Wales, an analysis of new figures has revealed. An analysis by The Irish Catholic of new figures from the Health Service Executive shows more terminations for 'emergency' medical reasons took place in Ireland last year than England and Wales in the last 10 years.
A Catholic school in the US state of Georgia is facing a discrimination lawsuit for sacking a teacher who entered into a same-sex marriage. Despite working to protect its Catholic ethos, Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, has been served with legal papers arising from the 2014 dismissal of music teacher Flint Dollar, after he informed school authorities of his forthcoming same-sex wedding.
A senior EU official has called for same-sex marriage to be legalised across Europe under EU freedom of movement rules, the Irish Independent reports. Frans Timmermans, the European Commission's vice president, gave his backing to campaigners who argue that the marriage of a same-sex couple in one EU state should be recognised in all of them, and called for the Commission to lobby for the introduction of same-sex marriage in all 28 member countries.
One of Northern Ireland's leading pro-life campaigners has had a harassment conviction against her struck out on appeal. Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life had been convicted in November 2014 for allegedly pursuing a campaign of harassment against Dawn Purvis, then director of the Marie Stopes abortion clinic, on dates in January and February of that year. Ms Smyth had repeatedly denied the allegations against her, which arose from demonstrations taking place outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.
The Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, has written to a number of prominent businesses to express concern at their public support for a same-sex marriage campaign in the country. Following the sponsoring of a full-page advertisement in The Weekend Australian by the corporations, which called on the government to amend the Australian Marriage Act of 1961, the Sydney archdiocese strongly criticised the the move and questioned the businesses' actions in backing the campaign for marriage redefinition.
A Christian couple in the US state of Iowa have been driven out of business following their refusal to host a same-sex marriage ceremony at their wedding chapel. Richard and Betty Odgaard both devout Mennonites, are the owners of Gortz Haus Gallery, a combined chapel, bistro, art gallery and flower shop in the town of Grimes. They were sued in 2013 by a gay couple on the grounds of discrimination whose marriage they declined to host on their premises.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the nation’s Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage in all states. In a 5-4 decision, the court’s panel acknowledged that "no union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were."
One of the front-runners for the leadership of the Labour Party in Britain has insisted that teaching that same-sex relationships are on a footing of "absolute equality" with heterosexual ones must be “absolutely compulsory” in all schools, including faith-based. As he continues his campaign to gain the party's top job, Andy Burnham, the current Shadow Health Secretary, said anyone arguing that such teaching in faith schools represents a threat to religious freedom is “straightforwardly wrong”.
Ireland will not hold a referendum on abortion before the next general election, a member of the Government has said. In response to specific call on the issue from the United Nations' Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin stated that no referendums would take place until after polling in the next election.
Austria's parliamentarians have rejected moves to legislate for same-sex marriage by a massive margin. In a vote held in the National Assembly, a motion to introduce gay marriage was roundly defeated by 110 votes to 26. Only members of the the nation's Green Party, which had tabled the motion, fully supported the move.
Over 30 pro-life organisations have urged the United Nations not to declare abortion a human right. As the UN prepares to vote – this September - on Sustainable Development Goals which are set to include universal access to "sexual and reproductive health-care services" by 2030, pro-life groups, interpreting such language as including abortion, responded to a submissions invitation from the Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) to make numerous individual requests to the body to recognise the right to life of the unborn and to resist pressures to have abortion recognised as a human right.
The government of Paraguay has rejected international pressure to proceed with an abortion on a young girl pregnant by rape. In the face of calls, from the UN and from Amnesty International for an immediate termination on the 24-week foetus carried by the 10-year-old, who is identified only as 'Mainumby', the Paraguayan ministry of health is insisting the pregnancy will result in birth and that the girl is receiving all necessary medical care. Abortion in Paraguay is illegal except in cases of threat to the well being of the mother.
A judge at Belfast's High Court has reserved judgement in a case aimed at extending abortion provision in Northern Ireland. Taken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), the case comes in the wake of a submission to the Northern Ireland Assembly of a consultation document compiled by the Department of Justice on the issue of abortion provision in the region. Currently, Britain's 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where a termination can only be undertaken to save the life of the mother.
Medical staff in Sweden have been denied conscientious objection rights on life matters following a decision from the European Committee of Social Rights. The committee had been asked by the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations (FAFCE) in 2013 to adjudicate on the lack of rights for medical practitioners in the country who do not want to take part in abortions.
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