House of Commons private Members’ ballot bills

The House of Commons private Members’ ballot bills were presented yesterday. Two of them may be of particular interest to readers:

  • [No 5]: Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.): “Bill to provide that opposite sex couples may enter a civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of the names of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of stillborn deaths; to give coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths; and for connected purposes”  – to be read a second time on Friday 2 February 2018 (Bill 11); and
  • [No 6] Geoffrey Robinson’s Organ Donation (Deemed Consent): “Bill to enable persons in England to withhold consent for organ donation and transplantation; and for connected purposes” – to be read a second time on Friday 23 February 2018 (Bill 12).

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Law and religion round-up – 9th July

Cake now off the Brexit menu…

…though not in the House of Lords for Pride 2017…

…but gluten-free is off the menu at Mass

Yesterday the BBC reported that the Vatican had ruled that the bread used in celebrations of the Eucharist must not be gluten-free. Continue reading

General Pharmaceutical Council guidance on religion, personal values & beliefs

The General Pharmaceutical Council – the independent regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in Great Britain – has published In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs. In summary, it notes that

“In some cases, a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values or beliefs may influence their day-to-day practice, particularly whether they feel able to provide certain services. This might include, for example, services related to:

  • contraception (routine or emergency)
  • fertility medicines
  • hormonal therapies
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • substance misuse
  • sexual health.”

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Marrying your sibling by accident: myth or reality?

In what may very possibly be a piece of “fake news” (aka “lies”), the Mississippi Herald website reported that a married couple had discovered they were twins after they went to a fertility clinic to find out why the wife was faling to conceive

According to the report, they had been separated at an early age when their parents died in a car crash and, because of what the report describes as “a filing error”, neither family knew that its foster-child had a twin. Continue reading

Assisted dying: appeal allowed in R (Conway)

As regular readers will be aware, Mr Noel Conway suffers from motor neurone disease, and while he retains the capacity to make the decision, he wishes to enlist the assistance of a medical professional to bring about his death in a peaceful and dignified way. He applied unsuccessfully for judicial review to seek a declaration under s 4(2) Human Rights Act 1998 that s 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 – which provides that a person commits a criminal offence if he or she does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person and their act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide – is incompatible with the ECHR. S 2(1). In [2017] EWHC 640 (Admin), Burnett LJ and Jay J refused his application: Charles J dissented. We noted it here.

In this latest judgment however, R (Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 275, McFarlane and Beatson LJJ concluded that permission to appeal and permission to apply for judicial review should be granted, and they remitted the matter to the Divisional Court to hear and determine the case. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 9th April

“Egg-bound” thinking by Church and State this week…

… but un oeuf is un oeuf, and so no more egg-related puns. However, we certainly didn’t expect the CofE Easter story statement to be about the “Trinity of Chocolate” (Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry). It was left to Dr Michael Sadgrove, Dean Emeritus of Durham, to inject a degree of sanity into the Church’s position in his comments to the Church Times.

Gratefully accepting a gift-horse of a metaphor, the BHA described it as a storm in an eggcup; it was a gift to the cartoonists and bloggers, while Quakers might shed a silent tear for three businesses founded by Friends. Meanwhile, the willingness of Theresa May to wade into this media-generated nonsense emphasized her lack of action on weightier matters. David Tollerton, of Exeter University, suggests that the whole affair is redolent of “dog-whistle politics”: an undercooked mess that feeds English nationalism, while Esther McConnell, a direct descendant of John Cadbury, pointed out in a tweet that, as a Quaker, he didn’t celebrate Easter anyway.

A busy week in the courts Continue reading

Assisted dying again: R (Conway)

By 2:1, the Administrative Court has dismissed the application of Mr Noel Conway for a declaration that s 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 breached his human rights under Articles 8(1) and 14 ECHR.

Background

In R (Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 640 (Admin), Mr Conway, aged 67, had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. A time would come when he would be told that he had less than six months to live and he wished at that point, while still able to make the decision himself, to die with medical assistance. Continue reading