Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Northern Ireland Health minister supports abortion ban

Jim Wells MLA
New Northern Ireland Health minister supports abortion ban
Jim Wells, who has previously stated in an interview that the abortion ban in Northern Ireland should be upheld, including in cases of rape, has been appointed as Northern Ireland’s new Health minister by first minister Peter Robinson. Mr Wells said in the interview, which took place in August 2012, "That is a tragic and difficult situation but should the ultimate victim of that terrible act [rape] – which is the unborn child – should he or she also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No." Although tipped to takeover at the health department two years ago, Mr Wells recently said that he would like to remain on Stormont's Justice Committee in order to oppose the Minister of Justice's plans to legalise the abortion of children diagnosed with a disability or conceived in rape. A public consultation on the proposal is expected to begin in the coming months. [Guardian, 23 September]

Spanish abortion law reform scrapped; justice minster resigns
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, has withdrawn a bill which would have reformed abortion law in Spain, limiting its availability only to cases of rape that have been reported to the police and cases where the mother’s health is considered to be in danger. Currently, Spain’s law allows abortion on demand up until 14 weeks. Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, the justice minister who championed the reform, resigned from his post soon after it was announced that the bill had been withdrawn. [Irish Times, 24 September]

Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury asks for promotion of Gospel of Life
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has spoken of the need to promote the "Gospel of Life with joy". Bishop Davies, who was attending an annual pro-life pilgrimage to Walsingham, said that, "We will be asked whether we stood idle all day or whether we prayed and made reparation, used our own voices for the defenceless and gave witness to the sanctity of human and family life." [Catholic Herald, 23 September]

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Belgian murderer to be euthanised over prison suffering

Frank Van Den Bleeken
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Belgian murderer to be euthanised over prison suffering
Frank Van Den Bleeken, a serial murderer and rapist in Bruges, Belgium, has been granted permission to commit suicide with the assistance of doctors. According to his lawyer, Mr Van Den Bleeken has expressed that he can "no longer accept the pain". According to Belgian law, those who wish to commit suicide in this manner must repeatedly express a "voluntary and well-considered" wish to die. Earlier this year, Belgium also legalised assisted suicide for children. [Mail, 16 September]

Schools under fire for offering STD tests during lessons
Parents of children in Brighton and Hove have complained after their 15- and 16-year-old teenagers were asked to take a chlamydia test in class. All secondary state schools in the area, except for one Catholic school, have signed up to the scheme. Brighton and Hove Council, who are running the scheme, said that it was in keeping with national guidelines and is designed to "demystify the test". [Telegraph, 21 September]

Non-embryonic stem cells used to use treat failing sight
A Japanese woman is the first person to be successfully treated for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with pluripotent cells taken from adult tissue samples. The condition which was treated affects millions of elderly people and can result in blindness. A similar treatment is being developed which does involve the destruction of human embryos but is still being trialled. [New Scientist, 16 September]

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