The first abortion clinic in Northern Ireland opened today
Northern Ireland’s first private abortion clinic opened today, causing hundreds of activists to protest in Belfast.
Waving placards saying ‘Abortion is murder’, about two hundred protestors gathered outside the newly opened Marie Stopes. There was also a heavy police presence at the clinic, which will offer services including terminations for women who are up to nine weeks pregnant.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland have ordered media not to identify any staff or clients for fear of being targeted by anti-abortion activists.
Police have said that any films or pictures identifying individuals going into the building must be pixellated, or risk breaching the European Convention on Human Rights, and UK law.
Tracey McNeil, director of UK and Europe for sexual health charity Marie Stopes, has confirmed that the clinic has hired security guards.
Speaking to The Guardian, Tracey insisted that she ‘will do absolutely everything to protect our team and our clients.’
The Belfast clinic is offering medical, not surgical, procedures, on up to nine weeks’ gestation – adhering to the current legal framework.
The clinic’s arrival comes as the Catholic Church is launching its ’40 weeks for life’ anti-abortion campaign.
What do you think about the opening of Marie Stopes in Belfast? Let us know your thoughts on Northern Ireland’s abortion laws below.