News Roundup

Pro-choice Senator urges rejection of Supreme Court Nominee over pro-life views

A pro-choice US Senator has urged her colleagues to reject a nominee to the US Supreme Court because he believes “the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, made the remarks during the first day of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Although the writings in question regarded euthansia, Senator Feinstein fears the Judge would apply the same principle to life before birth and thereby vote to overturn the Roe v Wade case that made abortion legal throughout the USA. “President Trump repeatedly promised that his judicial nominees would be pro-life, and ‘automatically’ overturn Roe v. Wade,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, said to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Judge Gorsuch has not had occasion to rule directly on a case involving Roe. However, his writings do raise questions. Specifically, he wrote that he believes there are no exceptions to the principle that ‘the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.’ This language has been interpreted by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations to mean he would overturn Roe.”

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UK University receives license to make three-parent embryos

A University in the UK has received permission from the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority to begin creating embryos with three parents. The purpose of creating embryos this way is to attempt to modify them to not have certain genetic diseases. The embryos will have DNA from two mothers and one father, Dr. David A. Prentice, vice president and director of research at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told LifeSiteNews. “The type of technique they’re using actually involves destroying two embryos to then re-combine [their] parts for a third constructed embryo with genetics from two women and one man,” said Prentice. “This technique starts with death of young human embryos.” He added: “They are literally using human beings – creating human beings – as experiments, . . . It’s not experimenting on human beings where you might be doing something to them. They are the experiment. They’re the creation.”

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US Supreme Court Judge warns religious liberty battles lie ahead

A US Supreme Court Judge has warned that America’s commitment to religious freedom is under attack. Justice Samuel Alito said that the Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 to impose same-sex marriage on all 50 States in the US was already being used to “vilify those who disagree, and treat them as bigots”. While religious freedom has been recognized in Congress and in the courts, there have been numerous, recent cases testing its limits especially as it applies to Government mandates concerning abortion and contraception. “We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls,” he said. “But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom.”

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More babies surviving premature birth – US study

 An increasing number of babies are surviving premature birth and with less neurological problems, a new study in the United States has found. Conducted by Duke Health, the study looked at 4,272 premature births over a three-year period and found that while survival for babies born between 22 and 24 weeks for the period 2000 and 2003 was about 30%, for the period 2008-2011, the survival rate increased to 36%. The US study bears out a similar study recently released in Britain which showed significant survival rates for infants born at 23 weeks, as high as 70% in some hospitals. Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, said the increase in survival figures are “again raising serious questions about the 24 week upper limit for social abortion”. He added: “It is utterly incongruous that on the one hand we are aborting babies at gestation when others are surviving with good neonatal care…It’s time now for Parliament again to ask serious questions about late abortion.”
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Top EU court rules employers can ban religious symbols

The European Union’s top court has ruled that employers can bar workers from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. The judgement handed down by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) states that internal company rules can be shaped so as to require ‘neutral dress’ on the part of employees. The case was centred on the experiences two women, Asma Bougnaoui in France and Samira Achbita Belgium who were fired by their companies in relation to the wearing of Muslim headscarves. However, the ruling means that a Christian employee can now be barred from wearing, for example, a cross necklace or lapel pin on the grounds of neutrality. Reacting to the judgement, Adina Portaru, Legal Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom International said: Nobody should be forced to choose between their religion and their profession. A court claiming to be a champion of human rights should safeguard the fundamental right to freedom of conscience, religion, and belief rather than undermining it. Citizens deeply held convictions should be reasonably accommodated by their employers.”

 

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New Bill to liberalise abortion progressing through UK Parliament

A new Bill before the British Parliament to further liberalise the country’s abortion laws will proceed to its first reading this month after a successful vote. The proposed legislation, to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks, would mean that instead of abortion being technically illegal without medics’ permission, there would be no criminal sanctions. The proposal passed by 174 votes to 142. The Bill was tabled by Diana Johnson MP, while abortion provider the British Pregnancy Abortion Service (BPAS) supports the Bill. Speaking on the vote’s outcome, Anne Scanlan, education director at the pro-life charity Life, said: “Ms Johnson’s position that there is no need for legal restrictions on abortion because of the presence of other parliamentary regulation and professional standards is clearly nonsense when one looks at the history of abuses in the abortion industry.”

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Force children to attend lessons on homosexual relations, says atheist body

Britain’s National Secular Society (NSS) has said that young pupils should be forced to attend lessons on homosexual relationships. Writing on the issue, the NSS campaign director, Stephen Evans added that allowing religious parents to remove their children from such classes should be deemed “unacceptable”. Evans was reacting to British government plans to include an opt-out in the proposed Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) programme for secondary schools – unlike the Relationships Education in primary schools, which will have no such element. “The government’s ‘21st-century relationships and sex education’ will not be worthy of that billing if it allows young people’s rights to be retarded by religion,” Evans wrote, adding that schools are an “ideal place” to encourage a “sexually autonomous younger generation”, and decried a lack of “explicit reference to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the proposals”. Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, criticised the NSS stance. “It cannot be right to trample all over the rights of millions of Christian, Muslim and Jewish families – to do so would be to sideline freedom itself,” he said.
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Canadian Bishops critical of major abortion fund announcement

The Catholic Bishops of Canada have denounced plans by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan for a $650million fund for increased international access to abortion. In an open letter to the Canadian leader, the prelates describe the plan as “a reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism” that “exploits women”. Mr Trudeau used International Women’s Day to announce that his government will commit the funds over the next three years to “address gaps in sexual and reproductive health and rights in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities”. The Bishops wrote that the move not only “negates our country’s laudable efforts to welcome refugees and offer protection to the world’s homeless…[but] your policy and vision, contrary to the fundamental ethic of protecting the most vulnerable and assisting the weakest, are in conflict with the principles instinctively shared by the majority of the world’s population and consistently upheld by the Catholic Church: to defend and protect human life from conception to natural death.”
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Abortion penalty Bill struck down in Dáil

A Bill which sought to reduce the penalty for procuring an abortion in Ireland from 14 years in prison to €1 has been defeated in the Dáil. The vote to strike down the legislation, tabled by Bríd Smith of the Alliance Against Austerity-People Before Profit, was carried by 81 votes to 26. Opposed by the Fine Gael Party, members of Fianna Fáil were allowed a vote of conscience, but in the end just three members voted in favour of the Bill: Stephen Donnelly, Lisa Chambers and Billy Kelleher. On the issue of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, soon to be the subject of recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly to the Dáil,Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has suggested that should a referendum be recommended,  it would be next year before any such poll would take place.

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Exposé prompts calls for closure of Marie Stopes

Pro-life groups in Britain have called on the government to shut down Marie Stopes International (MSI) clinics after a Daily Mail exposé of questionable practices. Both the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and Life issued a joint petition urging immediate action after an undercover reporter found that clinics were willing to alter patient application  forms so as to be seen to conform with the Abortion At of 1967, with doctors ‘assessing’ women by phone before recommending terminations. “In view of their appalling treatment of women, and recognising that every abortion takes the life of an unborn baby, Life and SPUC call on the Secretary of State for Health to withdraw from MSI their licence to carry out abortions.” SPUC executive director John Smeaton added: “It is a matter of fact that 98 percent of abortions are certified on mental health grounds when the government’s own evidence shows that there’s no real risk to the woman’s mental or physical health if she has the baby. In these circumstances, these abortions are illegal.”

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