Published Friday, 12 October 2012
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It follows news that officially approved terminations will be carried out at the new Marie Stopes sexual health centre in Belfast from next Thursday.
The centre will operate within the current laws for NI, which differs from the rest of the UK in that abortions are only allowed if the pregnant woman is at immediate risk, or if there is a long-term or permanent risk to her physical or mental health.
Mr Poots said there are around 40 cases in Northern Ireland each year and described the opening of such a clinic as "unnecessary".
He added that claims it is needed due to confidentiality concerns are a "an awful slur" on the local health care system.
"I don't think it's necessary because these things can be dealt with sensitively and sympathetically by our health service and that has been the case for some time," said Mr Poots.
"To say it's necessary because of confidentiality issues in an awful slur on our medical staff who have the highest integrity when it comes to confidentiality.
"My brief as Health Minister is to provide good health care for the people of Northern Ireland and we're doing that when it comes to sexual health and we don't need the Marie Stopes to set up to carry out abortions."
The new clinic is headed by programme director and former Progressive Unionist MLA Dawn Purvis and will provide a range of services.
The abortions available would only be carried out during the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
Ms Purvis said: "The department issued guidance on termination of pregnancy but that guidance was withdrawn, so there is a lot of uncertainty that exists around how women can access those services.
"We are a private healthcare provider and I think that many women who try to access services through the NHS here find it very difficult.
"There have been a number of cases as you know where the family planning association have taken the Department of health to court to try and get some clarification around the termination of pregnancies services within the NHS in Northern Ireland."
The announcement of the clinic has brought anger from pro-life campaigners who are planning to take legal action against it opening.
Bernadette Smyth from Precious Life told UTV she does not agree that the service is not different to what is available on the NHS.
She said: "It's a lot different from what's available here in Northern Ireland.
"The law is very clear here - the sole purpose of the law in Northern Ireland is to protect the unborn child. The law clearly states that an unborn child is protected under the 1861 and 1945 criminal justice act, which means it is an illegal offence, a criminal offence to take the life of an unborn child.
"There is no will for abortion in this part of the United Kingdom, in fact the numbers of women seeking abortion over the last number of years has been decreasing. We can see if a woman's health is in danger, all medical treatment is available."
Marie Stopes clinics in England are regulated by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, but that won't be the case in Northern Ireland.
"The nature of services proposed by Marie Stopes International are currently not subject to regulation under The Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003," an RQIA spokesperson confirmed.
"RQIA will continue to liaise with the service provider to ensure that any changes in the proposed service model that results in a requirement for regulation are dealt with appropriately."
According to Department of Health figures for 2011/2012, there were 35 "terminations of pregnancy".