News Roundup

Swedish midwife submits conscience case to European Court of Human Rights

A Swedish midwife has filed a case against Sweden with the European Court of Human Rights after Sweden failed to uphold her conscientious objection to abortion. Mrs. Ellinor Grimmark was fired from her job as a midwife when she refused to participate in abortions. She took a case in Sweden but lost and is now appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. Robert Clarke of ADF International, who are providing legal counsel, said Sweden has failed to protect this midwife’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience guaranteed by international law and this case, “could determine whether people who value life at all stages of development will be able to pursue a medical career in the future.”

New Taoiseach promises abortion referendum next year

In his opening address to Dáil Éireann as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar promised that there would be a referendum on the pro-life amendment in 2018. Among a slate of appointments he announced that Minister Simon Harris would remain as the Minister of Health and that he would be “responsible for bringing forward legislation to allow for a referendum on the Eighth amendment in 2018”. The future of the pro-life amendment was the subject of extensive discussions at the Citizens’ Assembly which recommended that abortion be legalised on widespread grounds. The political means to effect that change is soon to be considered by a Joint Oireachtas committee which will make recommendations to the Government.

Northern Irish women not entitled to free abortions in England under NHS

The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that the National Health Service in England is under no obligation to pay for abortions undergone by Northern Irish women in hospitals in England. The judgement acknowledged that under devolution, separate authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for providing free health services to those usually resident there. It stated that the health secretary was entitled to restrict access to NHS abortions “in line with this scheme for local decision-making”. The judgement added that the UK Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt was “entitled to afford respect to the democratic decision of the people of Northern Ireland not to fund abortion services”. A spokesperson for the Iona Institute welcomed the judgement saying Northern Ireland “should be proud of its life-saving abortion law”. Only 3pc of pregnancies in Northern Ireland end in abortion – taking into account those who travel to Britain for abortions – versus 20 percent in Britain.

Pro Life Campaign condemn UN Committee for pro-abortion ruling against Ireland

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has said that Ireland violated the human rights of a woman by not enabling her to abort her child who had been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. The woman then had to travel to Britain for the abortion and the committee felt this amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that the State had inflicted on her. The committee ordered the State to pay compensation to the woman and to provide psychological treatment to her. It also said Ireland needs to prevent similar situations from happening again by changing its laws on abortion. In response, the Pro-Life Campaign lambasted the UN committee for lacking fairness and impartiality. Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “The UNHRC is behaving like the international wing of the Irish abortion lobby. They have taken to attacking Ireland’s pro-life laws every few months but have never, for example, expressed a single word of concern or criticism at the barbaric abortion practices in countries like England and Canada where the ghastly and gruesome practice of denying medical attention to babies born alive after botched abortions is tolerated and routinely happens. Any committee that turns a blind eye to such horrific abuses is in no position to lecture Ireland on its laws.”
Ms Sherlock continued: “The UNHRC is effectively saying that unborn babies with a life limiting condition are worthless and undeserving of any protections in law. I sympathise greatly with the woman at the centre of today’s case and all families who receive a diagnosis that their child has a life-limiting condition. The UN however has no right in the name of human rights to make a value judgment on which lives are valuable and which ones are not. Either we protect every human life or we end up protecting none.
“We like to think of the UN as an honest defender of human rights. The UNHRC is trading on this good name to confer undeserved legitimacy on their own ideological demands. Today’s remarks from the UNHRC is not a court ruling. Ireland is perfectly entitled to determine its own laws in this area and it is outrageous for the Committee to interfere in Irish democracy by ordering us to introduce a procedure which ends human life.”

Dominican Theologian urges Sisters to reject hospital deal that ‘destroys life’

In a forceful op-ed in the Irish Times, a moral theologian has urged the Sisters of Charity to reject any deal with the National Maternity Hospital that would lead to the destruction of innocent, unborn life. Fr Kevin O’Reilly said that, while the Sisters may intend that all human life should be respected at the new hospital, nonetheless it is entirely foreseeable that abortions will eventually occur there. He urged the Sisters then to reject the deal so as to take a stand for life: “Reason informed by the Gospel of Life calls the sisters’ representatives to display courage by withdrawing from any deal that is ordered to the destruction of innocent life. Experience of the Cross will be the sisters’ reward in this life. We ought never to forget, however, that in the Cross is our salvation.”

Good Friday alcohol ban to be lifted from all premises by 2018

The Government have decided to lift the prohibition on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday from all premises selling alcohol. Previously, they had offered their support to a private-members bill that would have lifted the ban for pubs and off-licences. Now, however, they will support amendments to that bill that would also lift the ban for restaurants, hotels and clubs. Moreover, by amending that bill, rather than including the policy change in a broader bill dealing with all aspects of the sale of alcohol, they expect the proposal to become law well in advance of Good Friday 2018.

Psychiatrist objects to role in certifying abortion

A leading psychiatrist has complained about the working of the 2013 abortion act, saying the process to certify abortions puts an unfair burden on psychiatrists. The act allows abortion where a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide and requires a psychiatrist to certify that the woman is suffering from suicidal ideation. John Hillery, president of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, said the Act brought psychiatrists “a step away” from what they are trained to do. Speaking in a personal capacity, he said psychiatrists were trained to “assess mental illness and treat mental illness”, while the Act required them to make decisions about whether a suicidal pregnant woman should have an abortion. “It’s really putting it back on psychiatrists to decide something that should be decided by wider society” which then put psychiatrists in the “firing line” when people disagreed with their decision, he said.

Bishop decries hostility toward the Church

A climate of hostility exists towards the Church, the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Denis Brennan has said. Speaking at the ordination of Fr Billy Caulfield, Bishop Brennan said to those present that at times “you will feel the anger/hostility people have for the Church in general directed at you.” Bishop Brennan said there is a lot of concern in the Church about the future which “is understandable given the volume of criticism and negativity directed at the church over recent times”. However, he continued, “In these Pentecost days we need to cast off our fears too, we are not the first generation of Christians to worry and wonder about the future. In every age people have written the obituary of the church and our age is no exception.” Just last week the Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O’Reilly, also spoke of the Church suffering a level of hostility that amounted to a kind of persecution.

Girl detained for own safety after psychiatrist ruled out abortion

A girl requesting an abortion on foot of a threat of suicide was detained under the Mental Health Act for her own protection as the psychiatrist treating her advised that an abortion “was not the solution”. The case was one of 22 detailed by the Child Care Law Reporting Project who provide independent, anonymised reporting on child-related cases before the courts.
In this particular case, a psychiatrist gave evidence that while the child was at risk of self-harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy, “this could be managed by treatment and that termination of pregnancy was not the solution for all the child’s problems at this stage”. A few days later, however, a second psychiatrist said although the “young girl” presented as being depressed “there was no evidence of a psychological disorder” and so the court ordered her release. It was not reported whether or not she subsequently got an abortion in the State.

Ireland’s religious orders have a rightful claim to their properties, says UCD professor

The Church in Ireland have a rightful moral claim to the properties they own due to the years of hard labour put into them by generations of priests and religious, says a UCD academic. Tony Fahey, Professor Emeritus at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at UCD, said that State-aid and public donations amounted to a kind of “earned income” for the services provided in health and education by droves of religious who worked for a pittance. Moreover, anything the religious congregations got from the State, he said, is dwarfed in comparison to the lavish grants and tax-breaks for multi-nationals today. Opposition to the congregations’ role in these services, he said, is often motivated “by hostility to their religious character”, adding, “[t]oday, a secular republic is likely to regard God as a foreign power and his agents as interlopers who are as unwelcome in the public sphere as Russian hackers in an American election.” He concluded by asking that the uncritical hagiographers of yesteryear not be replaced by equally imbalanced anti-religious commentaries: “we should avoid swinging to the opposite extreme and allowing the nuances of the historical truth to be buried in populist invective”.

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