News Roundup

IVF babies, born to 64 year old, taken into care

A 64 year old woman in Spain gave birth to twin babies in February after having received fertility treatment in the USA. She was given the treatment despite having had a six year old child taken off her by social services in Spain, and despite having been diagnosed with a personality disorder prior to having that child. Now social services have intervened again and taken her twins from her, barely two months after their birth, after detecting ‘signs they could be at risk.’ A spokesman for social services in Burgos said: ‘Since she left hospital, a multidisciplinary team has been monitoring the situation. All the reports conclude that the twins need protection in another environment.’

This case is the latest in a litany of shocking instances of post-menopausal women being given fertility treatment to have children. Carmen Bousada, Spain’s oldest mother ever at 67, died of cancer aged 69 in July 2009 three years after giving birth to IVF twins Cristian and Pau.In October last year Spanish doctor Lina Alvarez gave birth at aged 62 to a healthy girl, 10 years after her menopause at the age of 52 thanks to IVF treatment. The world’s oldest documented mother is Daljinder Kaur from India, who gave birth in 2015 at the age of 70 after two years of IVF treatment. Britain’s oldest mother is Elizabeth Adeney, from Suffolk, who had a son aged 66 in 2009 after travelling to Ukraine for treatment.


Catholic university in Belgium fires lecturer who called abortion ‘the murder of an innocent person’

A visiting lecturer at the world renowned Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium has been dismissed for presenting arguments in a philosophy class that abortion is a form of murder. In an article he wrote and distributed to students, Mercier presented both philosophical and anecdotal arguments in favour of his firmly pro-life position and denounced a widely used term in French for abortion — IVG (“voluntary interruption of pregnancy”). “IVG is a euphemism that masks a lie. The truth is that abortion is the murder of an innocent person,” he wrote. Feminist groups complained that Mercier was presenting his “personal opinion in class. The University suspended Mercier’s two courses while his case was reviewed and later dismissed him without giving any reason.


Sweden shows no mercy to midwife with conscientious objection to abortion

A Swedish midwife is battling the denial of her career and livelihood over her refusal to participate in abortions. Eliinor Grimmark was training as a midwife in Sweden when she asked a hospital where she planned to work to accommodate her desire to not participate in abortions. Their response was to cancel her employment. Worse, the Government-stipend she was receiving to subsidise her studies was cut off. Other employment opportunities dried up and she was even offered counseling “to help her come to terms with abortion”. All this occurred despite there being an acute shortage of midwives in Sweden.

Eventually, Ms Grimmark moved to Norway to practice her profession there, where hospitals are happy to accommodate those with objections to abortion.

At the same time, she pursued a case against the Swedish authorities claiming religious discrimination and violation of her freedom of conscience. She lost that case in November 2015. This week, her appeal will be ruled upon by an appellate Court. Should she lose there, she intends to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights where the weight of precedent and law favours her argument.


Government to abolish Good Friday alcohol ban in 2018

Sources close to the Government have told the Irish Times that the ban on selling alcohol on Good Friday will be abolished next year.
A group of Independent Senators have already proposed a Bill to that effect and it will come before the Seanad this week. The Government has decided not to oppose that Bill for now as they have accepted in principle the change in policy. However, they plan to incorporate the proposed changes into legislation they themselves are preparing on the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol. That legislation will accompany another bill which seeks to curb the consumption of alcohol in Ireland.  

Government backing to cut waiting time for divorce in half

The Government has offered its support for a referendum to reduce from four years to two the period a couple must be living apart before they may apply for divorce.

The referendum has been proposed by FG TD, Josepha Madigan, in a bill she brought before the Dáil yesterday. It also received support from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, and others.

Minister of State, David Stanton, said the Government would be supporting the bill and would also like to see restrictions on divorce taken out of the constitution completely so that the regulation of divorce might be entirely a matter for legislation.



NHS Scotland tells teachers: ‘Ditch boys and girls, kids can be gender fluid’

The National Health Service, Scotland, has published a transsexual guidance document encouraging schools to move away from the distinctions of ‘male’ and ‘female’. The 30-page policy document endorses ‘gender fluidity’, described as a “flexible range of gender expression which may change over time and sometimes as frequently as on a daily basis”. It also says that children can choose their gender, and that teachers should help a child to withhold their ‘gender choices’ from parents if necessary. The document says schools have an “opportunity to challenge typical gender stereotypes” of male and female.

Josie Appleton, head of civil liberties organisation the Manifesto Club, warned that the policy will sow division between parents and schools. She told the Mail on Sunday: “The idea that authorities have a policy document which essentially says schools have the licence over children’s identities, and keep that private from parents, is outrageous. “It’s going to completely estrange institutions from parents.”




Students at UK University will lose marks for not using ‘gender-sensitive language’

Students who don’t use “gender-sensitive language” will be penalised marks on a course at the University of Hull. The policy was uncovered by The Sunday Times in a document which states: “Language is important and highly symbolic. In your essay, I thus expect you to be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formulations. Failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact your mark.”

A senior lecturer at the university said: “Should any student use language which is not deemed gender-neutral, they will be offered feedback as to why. Deduction of marks is taken on a case-by-case basis.” Responding, Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology, said: “This linguistic policing is used as a coercive tool to impose a conformist outlook.”

In December 2016 it was uncovered that students at the University of Oxford could be expelled if they fail to use ‘gender neutral’ pronouns. Under the university’s behaviour guidelines, students and staff are required to use the gender neutral pronouns ‘zie’ or ‘ey’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ when referring to transsexual people. The guidelines state that “deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person” may amount to harassment.


Same-sex marriage a ‘key issue’ for Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland power-sharing talks

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has listed the introduction of same-sex marriage as a key issue the DUP must compromise on in order to form a Government in Northern Ireland. He said: “The DUP’s approach thus far has been to engage in a minimalist way on all of the key issues, including legacy issues – an Irish-language act, a bill of rights and marriage equality.”

MLAs have been asked to vote for the redefinition of marriage five times during the last five years. On each occasion the proposal has been stopped by the DUP.

Callum Webster, The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer, has said: “A small number of activists might be pushing for this change, but the people of Northern Ireland do not want to see such a fundamental building block of society redefined.”



Omission of ‘Easter’ from Easter Egg Hunt ignites furious reaction in UK

Prime Minister Theresa May has condemned the UK’s National Trust for omitting the word “Easter” from its annual children’s egg hunt. “I’m not just a vicar’s daughter, I’m a member of the National Trust as well,” she told ITV. “I think the stance they have taken is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know what they are thinking about frankly.” Church leaders criticised the National Trust for “airbrushing” Christianity out of its chocolate egg hunt, after a rebrand led to the renaming of the “Easter Egg Trail” as the “Great British Egg Hunt”. The archbishop of York said the decision to omit “Easter” from the egg hunt was “tantamount to spitting on the grave of [John] Cadbury” – the chocolate company’s founder.


Oireachtas committee to consider Citizens’ Assembly’s report and make recommendations on abortion

A special Dáil and Seanad joint committee is being set up this week to consider the report of the Citizens’ Assembly on abortion and make recommendations to the Government on potential changes to the Constitution. The Citizens’ Assembly has been considering the issue of abortion for some time and is due to offer its report in June. The Oireachtas committee will then take up the Assembly’s report and begin its own deliberations. The committee may conduct hearings into the matter and seek input from medical and legal experts, as well as examining the position of other countries. They will be due to make their own report before the end of the year. At that point, the Government will have to decide which particular course of action to pursue and, should it decide to hold a referendum, will require the support of the Dáil to make that possible.


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