Call for inquiry into abortion clinic

Published Thursday, 18 October 2012
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Representatives from Marie Stopes have been invited to meet with the Stormont Justice Committee to explain how they will carry out abortions in compliance with the law.

Call for inquiry into abortion clinic
Pro-life campaigners outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast. (© Pacemaker)

The country's first private sexual health clinic opened on Thursday amid protests, as some claim there is no demand for terminations in Northern Ireland.

"It is appropriate for this Committee to assure itself, and the public, that this private clinic will scrupulously follow the law," Paul Givan, DUP chair of the committee, said.

It follows a call from the Attorney General for the committee to look into the practices of the new facility.

John Larkin QC made the request stating that he could only offer advice, act as counsel and interview witnesses in a non-statutory role as guardian of the rule of law.

Hundreds of pro-life campaigners - many carrying placards bearing graphic images of aborted babies - gathered outside the building ahead of the clinic's official opening.

A small number of pro-choice campaigners also demonstrated, but most groups had agreed not to out of respect for those using the clinic.

The facility will provide a range of services, including ultrasound scans, smear tests, STI and HIV testing and contraceptive options.

A woman can opt to pay for an abortion at the clinic if the strictly controlled laws surrounding termination are met - the mother's life or mental health must be deemed to be at serious risk by two doctors.

Some groups are protesting and, whilst we respect their right to do so, we hope they too will respect an individual's sexual and reproductive health rights, and a woman's right to choose.

Dawn Purvis

Dawn Purvis, the former Progressive Unionist Party leader who is director of the new clinic, said she looked forward to welcoming people into the centre.

"Anyone coming to us can be assured that we fully respect their privacy and our dedicated healthcare team will provide them with confidential, sensitive and non-judgemental care," she said.

"The level of support Marie Stopes International has received over the past week has been truly inspiring - we have been inundated with messages of support."

Tracey McNeill, vice-president and director of Marie Stopes UK and Europe, said the organisation would not break the law.

"We are clear about the law here. The team here are all from Northern Ireland - we understand the culture here. We don't want to change the culture here and have abortion on demand. This is about offering choice," she said.

Only medical terminations will be carried out and only up to nine weeks' gestation, and the clinic will provide counselling as part of its aftercare. It costs £80 for a consultation and £350 for the procedure.

A spokesperson for the Marie Stopes clinic said it has been "inundated" with people who want to use its services.

Bernadette Smyth from the Precious Life group joined pro-life campaigners who said prayers and sang hymns outside the building where the clinic is based.

In Northern Ireland, people are so opposed to abortion that they actively want to come here today to send out a clear message to Marie Stopes and to the government that they do not want abortion here.

Bernadette Smyth

She said she wants to see an end to terminations, which she described as "violent and graphic".

"There's no will here from the people of Northern Ireland to introduce any of or abortion here," she added.

"Abortion has lost all meaning in some areas, for example in the UK, it becomes the norm. In Northern Ireland it's not the norm."

On the day of the clinic's opening, sixth form pupils at a grammar school in Co Londonderry gave up their lunchtime to pray for the facility to be closed.

"Our pupils felt that they had to stand up and let their voice be heard about this situation. They felt that the innocent voice of the child was not being heard," principal Deirdre Gillespie said.

"A number of younger children in the school - year 11 and year 12 - now also want to get involved, so much so that the rota that the put in place for this lunchtime rosary and novena is oversubscribed hugely."

© UTV News
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94 Comments
maggie in north west wrote (670 days ago):
Patrick can you not see the differance between the Jews being slaughtered by the nazi.and the fetus' Well those people had a breath.families who loved them. Maybe you should ask what is the differance between the Jews and the ones murdered by hate here.
maggie in north west wrote (670 days ago):
Has anyone ever tried to find out why this clinic is here in NI. Because woman have always needed to go overseas to have termination. Those woman make the choice for themselves and their decision must be respected. There are many issues in this debate and it should not be on religion alone.Some woman find out that their baby could be born with brain damage or they themselves are at risk. the choice of termination is left to the parents. that is hard with the church branding them as murderers when the child never had a breath..We are too quick to judge.In this day and age we hear of children being kept alive who should be allowed to die because the RC church rules on termination and docters being sued if care is not given.We close down this clinic the woman will still go to have abortions in England and not one of those woman will find it was an easy choice.
B. Mc in Co. Antrim wrote (671 days ago):
From the moment an egg is fertilised, the zygote contains, within one cell, everything required to be a human. It is the same body we have at birth, the same body we have at death, only in a less mature form. In fact, in the first 30mins of life (post-conception), we have 30% more DNA than we do in our mature state. As for the argument that it's a woman's right to 'choose' because it is 'her body', I would like to point out that implantation doesn't occur until around day 5 or 6 post-conception. When, then does it start to be part of her body? And at what stage of development does it cease to be part of her body, given the fact that most people who make the 'woman's body' argument would not favour late-term abortions. Pro-abortionists (or pro-choice, if you want to make it sound nicer) often appeal to science, claiming those of us who are anti-abortion rely solely on 'out-dated' religious beliefs. That argument is really wearing thin, because science, devoid of ideological interference, always points to the fact that life begins at conception. Where there is a zygote, and later a fetus, there is life. If people choose to believe that this is some sort of pre-human, an unwanted burden in a woman's womb, then our society is in a very poor state indeed.
lorna in limavady wrote (671 days ago):
Personally I am not for abortion nor am I to judge the woman who has had a lot thought as to decide to keep the baby conceived and not planned or terminate. To say she must go through pregancy and give birth to a child she has no means of supporting is total wrong.and sometimes it is those woman making the right decision we should help and not judge. We see the Catholic church's stand being no fetus should be terminated even those who are known to be brain damaged. I have heard being kept alive by artificial means. This does not deal with the issues concerned.that child may have suffered pain and discomfort. every time it was to die being brought back to life. We do not deal with the expensive to those children and docters are not allowed to withhold treatment.No parent should be judged when they have decided the only option for them is termination.
Ryan in Belfast wrote (671 days ago):
I dont know why those who support abortion keep thinking that those people who are anti-abortion are only against abortion due to their religious beliefs. Thats not the case, im a Catholic yes but im against abortion because i dont believe in killing/murdering an unborn child and i believe its seriously damaging to society as a whole. Many atheists are also against abortion, agreeing that the unborn child has the fundmental right to life. Keep abortion out of Ireland!
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