First ever private abortion clinic opens in Northern Ireland

Pro-life activists have called for the clinic to be shut down

The first ever private abortion clinic in Northern Ireland will open next week (October 18), but pro-life activists are already campaigning for it to be shut down.

The Marie Stopes Centre, which will be based in Belfast, is controversial as the law for abortions in Northern Ireland is different to the rest of the UK.

In Northern Ireland a woman can only have an abortion if pregnancy is putting her health or mental wellbeing at risk.

Pro-life groups are fighting the opening of the centre as they are concerned ‘illegal abortions’ will be performed in the clinic.

However, the new programme director of the Marie Stopes Centre, Dawn Purvis (pictured), has confirmed it will operate within the law.

She said: ‘We are providing a private health care service with a clear access route within the law as it exists for women who meet the criteria in Northern Ireland.

‘If women come to us and they have a consultation with our doctors and they don’t fit with either the legal or medical criteria that exists here, then we can refer them on to one of our centres in England.’

The clinic will offer contraceptive advice, HIV testing and terminations at up to nine weeks of pregnancy. This is all within Northern Irish law.

Abortion is a highly emotive issue in the country, as the Catholic church and many of the major political parties oppose it.

202,518 women had legal abortions in the UK last year. 116 were carried out in Northern Ireland.

But figures from the Department of Health show just over 1,000 women travelled from Northern Ireland to England and Wales to have a termination.

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