Displaying items by tag: laws
On 15 February the Republican-led Senate in Arizona voted in favour of a bill to ban abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. Senator Nancy Barto, who sponsored the bill, said, ‘The state has an obligation to protect life, and that is what this bill is about. A 15-week-old baby in the womb has a fully formed nose, lips, eyelids. They suck their thumbs. They feel pain. That’s what this bill is about.’ Democrats argue that any abortion ban would disproportionately affect low-income and minority women who are unable to travel to other states with no such restrictions. Doctors who violate the bill could face felony charges and lose their licences. At present, the bill moves to the GOP-controlled State House, which has previously ruled against abortion. If passed, it goes to governor Doug Ducey’s desk to be signed. In the past seven sessions, Ducey, who opposed abortion, has signed every abortion-related bill that has reached his desk.
On 8 February, the day dedicated to safer internet, the department for culture, media and sport and MP Chris Philp published the Online Safety Bill, which will force pornography websites to prevent underage access including by using age verification technologies. They believe that children will be better protected from online pornography under the new measures in the Government’s pioneering new internet safety laws. Pray that all sites that publish pornography will successfully put robust checks in place to ensure their users are over 18 and that no one slips through the safety net. If sites fail to act, Ofcom will be able to fine them up to 10% of their annual worldwide turnover or can even block them from being accessible in the UK. Bosses of these websites could also be held criminally liable if they fail to cooperate with Ofcom.
Tom Tugendhat will chair a foreign affairs select committee to look into the Government’s apparent inability to crack down on money-laundering. Russian oligarchs’ use of London to launder their fortunes will come under renewed scrutiny. The Foreign Office is often accused of leaving a gap between its tough anti-Russian rhetoric and failure to control either money-laundering or those in the UK who enable the corruption. Foreigh secretary Liz Truss says the UK has some of the toughest anti-corruption laws in the world, but even in her short period in office she has been repeatedly challenged to review whether the laws are working effectively or adequately policed. The inquiry will follow up a previous investigation which found gaps in government anti-corruption armoury, warning, ‘Turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of Putin’s offensive measures.’
An international group of scientists has ditched ethical guidelines so that they can grow babies for forty days, for the sole purpose of killing them for research. The International Society for Stem Cell Research issued new guidelines that lift restrictions on certain types of unethical research that manipulate, alter, or destroy human embryos. It wants to remove a 14-day rule for research on human embryos, established in 1979, which stated scientists may only experiment on human embryos up to 14 days after fertilisation. This rule has been the current policy in the United States and generally a scientific standard throughout the world. The new guidelines have removed all restraint, creating the potential for ‘baby in a bottle’ experiments. It also wants to use three-parent human embryos (human embryo with DNA from three individuals), which is currently prohibited, and to allow creating a cell from animal and human cells, characteristic, or tissues.
Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019 after Westminster acted during the absence of devolution. Delays in implementing Northern Ireland's abortion laws have been a ‘deeply troubling exercise in finger-pointing’, a court has heard. Stormont is under pressure to establish a permanent, central abortion service; it has not happened yet and is being challenged in a high court judicial review. The Human Rights Commission is taking the case against the NI Executive, the Department of Health, and the NI secretary Brandon Lewis. Currently health trusts only operate a ‘skeleton service’ for medical abortions up to ten weeks of pregnancy. Women seeking a termination beyond that gestation travel to England. Arlene Foster’s party, which opposes abortion, said that abortion proposals were not going to be passed by the executive or the incoming leader, Edwin Poots.
Ioannis Dekas, a father of four sons, became concerned after he found one of his boys had accessed pornography. He said this was a wake-up call for him and his wife, making them confront the potential danger to their son and the impact on them all as a family. Mr Dekas wants the government to put in place the age verification requirements set out in part three of the Digital Economy Act - a law that was passed in 2017 but not acted on. Mr Dekas is seeking a High Court hearing to consider whether the government should tighten youngsters' access to pornography. He wants the government to implement proof of age in order to gain access. New research suggests the majority of 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK have recently seen porn. The government is currently preparing a new Online Harms Bill, which is expected to be put before Parliament later this year.
A 23-year-old woman taking legal action against an NHS gender clinic says she should have been challenged more by medical staff over her decision to transition to a male as a 16-year-old teenager. At the hearing, lawyers will argue that children cannot give informed consent to treatment delaying puberty or helping them to transition. The clinic runs the UK's only gender-identity development service. Pray for the two claimants, Keira Bell and Mum A - the mother of a 15-year-old girl with autism who is awaiting treatment at the clinic. Pray for stricter control of the puberty blockers that pause the development of breasts, periods, facial hair and voice-breaking. They are meant to give children more time to weigh up their options before going through the physical changes of puberty. Their impact on brain development and psychological health is not fully known.
Criminal charges against eight leaders of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) were confirmed on 7 October. They are charged with criminal trespass and illegal possession of church properties. The SCOC is a Nuban denomination experiencing religious and ethnic discrimination. However, a new minister of guidance and religious endowments could change the spiritual atmosphere. He stated recently, ‘Sudan is pluralistic in its thought, culture, ideologies, Islamic religious sects, and even religions.’ He also called for the return of Sudan’s Jewish community. He told the UN that ‘all public order laws are suspended and will be repealed’. These were used against women, especially those from marginalised communities. Sadly, reports emerged on 10 October that public-order police were patrolling Khartoum and harassing individuals. Pray for Sudan’s new multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature to be welcomed by police, and for the new policy changes to be applied by all law courts.
Street evangelist Allen Coote was arrested outside St Paul's Cathedral for reading the Bible aloud. No members of the public complained: it was cathedral staff who reported him. Allen believes the cathedral’s subsequent concession to allow him just 30 minutes’ speaking time per week was unreasonable and said, ‘The Bible tells us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone. Now, there are many people on the concourse of St Paul's who come from all the nations of the world, and I was just basically reading what they should hear. Some of them were really pleased to stop and just listen to me.’ The cathedral has a policy to limit any ‘source of disturbance’ outside its doors, in order to offer visitors a ‘welcoming space’. Alan is now supporting a campaign by the Barnabas Fund which is calling on Parliament to pass a new law which specifically protects the right to proclaim the Bible in public.
Recently we prayed for our children to develop discernment to navigate a disturbing social media landscape. On 22 April health secretary Jeremy Hunt threatened social media firms with new laws if they didn't do more to protect children online. He gave them until 30 April to outline action on cutting underage use, preventing cyber-bullying, and promoting healthy screen time. He said, ‘I am concerned that your companies seem content with a situation where thousands of users breach your own terms and conditions on the minimum user age. I fear that you are collectively turning a blind eye to a whole generation of children exposed prematurely to the harmful emotional side-effects of social media. This is morally wrong and deeply unfair to parents faced with the invidious choice of allowing children to use platforms they are too young to access or excluding them from social interaction that the majority of their peers are often engaging in.’