Northern Ireland laws on abortion don’t respect Human Rights

Up until now it has been really difficult to be allowed an abortion in Northern Ireland. Whereas the 1967 Abortion Act allows women to get an abortion in the rest of the UK, in Northern Ireland you would only be allowed an abortion for double effect – if the mother’s life is at risk if she continues with the pregnancy. This is in line with Catholic teachings on abortion.

Today though, in a momentous court decision, a high court judge has said Northern Ireland’s almost outright ban on abortion stops women and girls receiving their human rights. It recommends that women who become pregnant from rape and incest or that the unborn baby has fatal abnormalities (which will lead to its death) should in future be allowed to have an abortion in Northern Ireland. The newspaper article continues to explain how the Northern Irish government is unhappy about this ruling and may try to stop it coming into force.


What did the Dalai Lama say when asked whether to pray for Paris?

Before we find out what he said, let’s check who the Dalai Lama is! The Dalai Lama is the head monk of Tibetan Buddhism and traditionally has been responsible for the governing of Tibet, until the Chinese government took control in 1959. The current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso; he is the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism. He’s well known around the world being the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West, and his charismatic manner has helped to draw much support for Buddhism and the Tibetan resistance movement.

In 1989 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for maintaining a policy of non violence with the Chinese government, despite the knowledge that many Tibetans would be happy to take up armed resistance to return him to his position as their leader. So what did he say about whether we should pray for Paris?

“People want to lead a peaceful lives. The terrorists are short-sighted, and this is one of the causes of rampant suicide bombings.

We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.

We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest.

So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”

In the interview with the German TV broadcaster Deutsche Welle the 80-year-old added that many of the world’s problems have been caused by “superficial differences” of religion and nationality.

His message for the world is clear:

“We are one people.”

What is climate change?

Okay, if all the world cared about were GCSE grades, this is a useful thing to know for your Religious Studies GCSE. Probably as an ‘a’ style question. But the world is not just about GCSE grades, A’ Levels or university degrees; it is also about dealing with huge environmental issues such as climate change which will affect our lives forever.

On Monday 30th November the COP21 – United Nations Conference on Climate Change – will begin in Paris, and 150 Heads of State from all over the world will meet to discuss, debate and hopefully agree on ways to reduce the speed that climate change is affecting our world.

The BBC has created a really easy to understand webpage which shows what climate change is using six simple graphics. Or you might try to get closer to the action by following the conference on its own webpage. In Paris on Sunday a planned protest by eco-protestors had to be called off due to security concerns. So instead the protestors laid out thousands of shoes to represent the people who’d wanted to walk and show their support. One pair of shoes had been donated by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church. In September whilst on a tour of the USA he’d made a passioned speech on the White House lawn.


“Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” said the Pope.

“Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” the pope said with a slow, deliberate delivery that left little room for misinterpretation.

“We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us.” He continued: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.”

Class C drug addiction of Spencer Matthews


Year 11 students have just been learning about the classification of drugs and the religious attitudes to illegal drugs in their RS lessons. During one activity they attempted to classify about 9 drugs into the UK’s system of Class A, Class B and Class C drugs. So we stumbled upon steroids and how as a Class C drug they are illegal unless under prescription from a doctor. You may have heard of steroids before when watching the news about another athlete facing a long-term ban for using steroids to gain an unfair advantage.

Well now we have the Made in Chelsea star, who was supposed to be appearing on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Spencer Matthews having to leave the ITV show due to an addiction with steroids. He said he’d been bulking up for a boxing match which ironically had never taken place.

To find out about the health risks, effects on your body and legal rules about steroids you can read the facts on the Talk to Frank website.

Hiding your emotions

On Friday afternoon at school I felt really upset, and in moments my tutor group would arrive at the door: could I hold back the tears? Days earlier in an assembly announcing that Macmillan was going to be our school charity for the year, once again I was left feeling myself well-up, as the video showed the old man placing flowers on his dead wife’s grave.

‘Should authority figures hide their emotions?’ is a question being asked today by the Observer newspaper – how apt.

The article was prompted by a BBC news reporter breaking down in tears when reporting about the Paris terrorist attacks and also the Judge in a high profile court case crying whilst delivering the guilty verdict and sentence for a brother who’d murdered his step-sister.

It makes you think of the fabulous book by Michael Rosen called Sad. A beautiful book written about his son who died; it explores what it feels like continuing with everyday life even though you are feeling really sad.

Michael Rosen

‘This is me being sad.
Maybe you think I’m happy in this picture.
Really I’m sad but pretending I’m happy.
I’m doing this because I think people won’t like me if I look sad.’

There’s even a YouTube clip of someone reading the book.  It’s so important that if you are feeling emotional you don’t always just hide it. Someone might be able to help. On Friday when I did feel really sad, students cheered me up, made me feel valued, and helped me see things in a better light. If there is nobody to talk to, don’t forget there’s Childline  where calls are free and confidential.


Optical Illusions – Do you have to see to believe?

As part of our Year 9 Philosophy work we looked at Bernard Russell and his ideas on intuition. To begin with we enjoyed trying to see things in Optical Illusions to test the theory: you have to see to believe.

Here are some more optical illusions for you to try.

Spiral Pinwheel

Moving Gears

Motion Blindness

Or you can choose your own on the Brain Bashers website.