News Roundup

Opinion poll findings at variance with Citizens’ Assembly recommendations on abortion

An Irish Times/ Ipsos MRBI opinion poll has found far less support for abortion than was recommended by the Citizens Assembly in April. Voters overwhelmingly rejected legalising abortion “on request” and abortion on socio-economic grounds. They also showed far less support for abortion in “hard cases” with majorities preferring that there be strict gestational limits imposed on legalisation in such circumstances. Responding to the poll, Cora Sherlock of the Pro-Life Campaign said that support for abortion even in cases of rape and foetal impairment would recede during the course of a campaign. “I would be confident when people reflect on what dismantling the Eighth Amendment would actually lead to in practice, support for retaining it will grow quickly,” she said.

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Donor-conceived child subject of legal wrangling by lesbian former partners

A woman has taken a court case against her lesbian former partner in an attempt to re-establish contact with a little girl who called her ‘papa’. The Irish woman’s former partner conceived the child by artificial insemination using donated sperm while they were in a relationship. When they subsequently broke up, the mother of the child returned to her native England with the little girl. The Irish woman is now taking a case to order that the little girl be returned to Ireland. The case was heard in the UK High Court by Justice Holman who said, “It is quite clear that in the period leading up to the birth of the child, both these people were viewing the prospective child as a joint child to be parented by them both jointly.” No decision has yet been given.

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Membership of Joint Oireachtas Committee on abortion finalised

The make-up of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on abortion has been decided with 15 TDs and 6 Senators comprising the 21 person group. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail together will represent a majority of the membership. The pro-life voice will be represented by Deputy Mattie McGrath, and Senator Ronan Mullen. The committee are tasked with assessing the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly regarding the future of the Eight Amendment and then proposing a concrete plan of action to the Oireachtas.

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‘State doesn’t have all the answers on families’ says head of Tusla

The head of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has said the days of the State having all the answers and imposing all the solutions “has to go”. The Chief Executive of the organisation, Fred McBride, said “We’ve created more problems than we’ve solved by thinking the state had all the answers. The solutions usually lie within families and our role should be to help families to arrive at their own solutions.” He was speaking at a parenting conference at Dublin Castle hosted by Tusla which was also addressed by Children Affairs Minister, Katherine Zappone.

 

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US Supreme Court Justice warns of threats to religious freedom

United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. gave a rousing address to a class of graduating seminarians on Wednesday where he urged them to fight for religious freedom despite the many dangers it faces today. Regarding the dangers to religious freedom, he referenced his own dissenting opinion in the case that made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty States in the US. In that dissent, Alito said he “anticipated that… ‘those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.’” There is already evidence of this happening, he said, and gave as an example a case the Supreme Court declined to hear, in which a pharmacy was being forced to sell emergency contraceptives despite their religious beliefs against them. He said he anticipates even more struggles for religious freedom in the years to come.

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Pope, Trump discuss religious freedom at Vatican meeting

At a meeting between Pope Francis and President Trump at the Vatican this week, they expressed their agreement on the pursuit of issues of life and religious freedom and their desire for greater cooperation between the State and the Church in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants. This has been an issue in recent years as Government mandates have increasingly curbed the Church’s ability to practice its charitable works in accord with its own conscientious beliefs.

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Government supports Bill forcing employers to publish salaries broken down by gender

Private companies and public sector employers will be forced to publish the salaries they pay their male and female employees so as to expose any gender pay gap in their ranks if a new Labour party bill becomes law. That possibility took a big step forward yesterday when the Government lent their support to it and assisted its passage to the next stage of the legislative process. The Bill would enable the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to audit companies and to ensure they publish transparent pay scales, broken down by gender, Labour senator Ivana Bacik said. In a piece in the journal.ie, she said, “our bill would require companies with 50 employees or more to report regularly on any gender pay gap in the workplace. Such employers would be required to publish the difference between the mean and median hourly rate paid to men and women employees.”

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Woman dies from complications of gender-reassignment surgery

A woman died last week of complications from gender re-assignment surgery as part of an effort to “transition” to the male sex. Rebeccah Feldhaus, 25, who went by the name “Rowan,” had a hysterectomy and was readmitted to the hospital later after going into septic shock and losing oxygen to her brain. Feldhaus was a University student in Atlanta, Georgia, and board member for an LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality. In a video segment recorded last year on “transgender” students and the opposition they faced to legally use the facilities of the opposite biological sex, she said, “It frustrates me they lack empathy about how we just want to live our lives,” adding: “We’re the ones who feel unsafe.”

 

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Transgender theorists attack transracial theorist

Transgender academics have reacted angrily to a claim that the rationale for accepting transgenderism should also apply to those who make transracial claims. The article “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy, was published in the peer-reviewed, feminist philosophy journal Hypatia. However, a furious reaction by academics on social media ensued with one professor accusing Tuvel of “discursive transmisogynistic violence.” In response the Associate editors of the journal denounced the article and questioned how it slipped through their peer-review process saying that it did great harm to “trans people and people of color”, and also exposed the author “to heated critique that was both predictable and justifiable.” The response from the wider philosophy community, however, has been one of outrage at the mistreatment of Professor Tuvel. Professor Brian Leiter of the popular blog “The Leiter Reports” likened it to the committing of a “thought crime” while the New York magazine has compared it to a modern day witch hunt.

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Babies from skin cells unsettles even the Experts

Researchers have developed a method of harvesting skin cells and transforming them into egg and sperm cells that could them form embryos, but, the New York Times reports, many scientists are unsettled by the prospect. The process, known as in vitro gametogenesis, or I.V.G. for short, could, for instance, enable two men provide all the genetic material for a new embryo. The procedure has already been successfully used on mice, but not yet on humans. However, not all are enamoured of the prospect. “Basic research is paramount, but it’s not clear that we need new methods for creating viable embryos,” said David Lemberg, a bioethicist at National University in California. “Attempting to apply what we’ve learned to create a human zygote is dangerous, because we have no idea what we’re doing, we have no idea what the outcomes are going to be.”

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