For the past 5 years Marie Stopes International has operated a clinic in Belfast offering medical abortion, amongst other services. It has operated within the very restrictive legislation in place in Northern Ireland. Today they have announced that they will be closing their Belfast Clinic.
Emma Campbell Co-chair of Alliance for Choice Belfast said “We are so glad that the clinic operated here for 5 years so that women from all over the island could avail of its services. It is time now to change the law in the North and South so that free safe and legal abortion can be accessed by those that require it. The clinic changed conversations and hearts and minds for that we will be eternally grateful.”
We are currently awaiting the finalisation of a scheme that will provide funding for treatment for people from Northern Ireland who travel to England. Emma Campbell continued “While this scheme will help many, it is important to continue to highlight those who are left behind by it. Those who cannot travel due to a controlling partner, precarious employment, or childcare responsibilities will not be helped by the funding scheme. Additionally as the funding does not cover NHS settings, those with high risk medical needs will be unable to obtain treatment.”
Danielle Roberts, Alliance for Choice volunteer and clinic escort added ‘The clients who availed of abortion services at MSI Belfast met very strict legal conditions, meaning that there was a long term or permanent risk to their mental or physical health. While these people should have been able to obtain NHS treatment in Northern Ireland, a climate of fear amongst the medical profession due to scaremongering by Stormont issued guidelines means that doctors are reluctant to provide treatment. These people, many of them vulnerable women, are now left with no option for free, safe, legal and local care.”
Alliance for Choice commends the staff at Marie Stopes Belfast for providing a vital service, one that should have been provided by the NHS, in very challenging circumstances. Their workplace was picketed daily with staff, volunteer escorts, and clients being subjected to harassment.
It is imperative that we continue our campaign to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland, and support the Repeal the 8th Movement so that people all over this island can have the abortion care they need.
If you need an abortion please read our article ‘What if I need an abortion now?’ on our website www.alliance4choice.com
Support is also available from :-
Abortion Support Network www.asn.org.uk 07897 611593
Women on Web www.womenonweb.org/
Women Help Women www.womenhelp.org
For further Information contact:
Emma Campbell 07894063965
Danielle Roberts 07739259085