Opening Of First Abortion Clinic Sparks Protest In Northern Ireland


10:18 pm - October 18th 2012

by Sarah McAlpine    


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The first clinic offering abortion in Ireland opened it’s doors in Belfast today amidst protests from Catholics and Protestants.

The Marie Stopes family planning centre will offer the abortion pill to women under nine weeks pregnant-if doctors determine that they’re at risk of death or long term health damage from their pregnancy, in accordance with legislation in Northern Ireland. The centre will also provide contraception, emergency contraception, HIV & STI testing and ultrasounds.

More than 300 people opposed to abortion under all circumstances took the opportunity to protest outside the clinic hours ahead of it’s opening on Thursday morning, with placards reading “Keep Ireland Abortion Free”. They demanded that the centre be shut down to prevent it from becoming a beachhead for expanding abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

The leader of anti-abortion group ‘Precious Life’, Bernadette Smyth, said “We’re in 2012. Women’s health is not in danger. Women are not dying because they can’t get abortions.”

Liam Gibson from the Society of the Protection of Unborn Children called on Belfast police to arrest the clinic’s staff if they provide women with information about abortion services in Britain. Approximately 5,000 women travel to Britain from Ireland and Northern Ireland each year.

23 year old Suzanne Lee, a student from Northern Ireland, illegally ordered the abortion pill over the internet last year. She said that she would have liked to have been able to visit a Marie Stopes clinic for medical support when she self-administered the medication at six weeks of pregnancy. She described taking the pill as “quite an ordeal to go through.” It involved “severe cramping, a lot of bleeding. I bled for four weeks after it.” Lee expressed disgust that people “believe I should spend life in prison for what I did.”

Officials from Marie Stopes said that they have already been deluged with calls from women, including Republic of Ireland residents, seeking appointments. However, due to the legal restrictions in Northern Ireland, they were expecting to provide relatively few abortions.

Vice President of Marie Stopes, Tracey McNeill said “Mostly what we’ll be doing is offering advice. Many of the people we see we won’t be able to treat, because of the legal framework,” adding that as long as patients weren’t harassed and intimidated, she had no problem with the protestors. “It’s important that people express their views in a democracy.”

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About the author
Sarah McAlpine is a News Editor at Liberal Conspiracy, and volunteer Co-Editor at www.womensviewsonnews.org. Raging Feminist. She likes Politics, Smashing Patriarchy & Animal Videos - though not necessarily in that order.
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Story Filed Under: a) Section ,Equality ,Europe ,Feminism ,Health ,News ,Sex equality ,top

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Reader comments


There’s always going to be protests about abortion in places like Ireland, because of the culture of the people. It’s to be expected.

I was glad to see though that Dawn Purvis has so publicly become the head of the clinic there.
That’s a brave move by her. She was the leader of the Loyalist political party that was linked to the terorist UVF group. And has been an elected member of the Stormont Assembly for them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Purvis

The location of the clinic is just by the Loyalist ‘Sandy Row’ area, so I presume that enough people from that community are happy enough with it being there. Otherwise it would get shut down.

i think i am right in saying that this clinic can only do abortions when the mothers health is in danger. surely this is pretty uncontraversial to 99% of people?

3. the a&e charge nurse

‘The Marie Stopes family planning centre will offer the abortion pill to women under nine weeks pregnant-if doctors determine that they’re at risk of death or long term health damage from their pregnancy’ – every pregnancy has a risk of death, is this the loophole, or will doctors in the northern ireland be spending most of their time providing advice on flight information to NHS services in other parts of the UK?

In Northern Ireland the law used to frame abortion is the 1861 ‘Offences against the person act’ – this act results in x5 women per day exporting this problem, largely because the culture around abortion in NI remains so toxic.
http://vimeo.com/5109185

The spokeswoman for Marie Stopes in Northern Ireland is Dawn Purvis, best known for her time as the face and voice of the Progressive Unionist Party, which is in fact the Ulster Volunteer Force, an illegal terrorist organisation, largely inactive but by no means fully disarmed. Since Purvis resigned in 2010, it has had no seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Northern Ireland’s other pro-abortion party has never won a Stormont seat. It is the Workers’ Party, which is really the Official IRA, the Stickies, which did not decommission any of its weapons until 8th February 2010, within the last 24 hours of the existence of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. Backed by the Soviet Union, it fought an exceptionally vicious war within the Republican community against the CIA-funded Provisional IRA, the Provos. There is, to say the least, no evidence that either organisation has ceased to exist, although the Provos are undeniably far more active.

The entire system of government in Northern Ireland is designed to ensure that the Provos are always in office, while the Stickies’ coup within the moribund old Irish Labour Party, which always holds the balance of power in the Republic and has lately secured the election of its candidate for President, effectively places them in the same position. The number two job in each state is now always held by those who not very long ago were trying to bomb them both out of existence in pursuit of the claims to 32-County sovereignty on the part of their respective Army Councils. Both of which still exist.

And with one of which you are lining up on a matter of public policy against all members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and almost everyone to hold elected office at any level in Northern Ireland. But alongside the Ulster Volunteer Force, which regularly foments riots, and which committed murder in broad daylight on the streets of Belfast as recently as 30th May 2010.


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