PROTESTS ARE EXPECTED in Belfast today over the opening of a Marie Stopes private sexual health clinic in the city.
The clinic will be run by Marie Stopes International, which describes the centre as “world class”and says it will offer a range of family planning and sexual health services.
It will offer the following services:
- Short and long-term contraceptive options (including condoms, injection, IUD)
- Emergency contraception
- HIV testing
- STI testing and treatment
- Ultrasound scanning
- Medical abortion up to nine weeks’ gestation
The Stop Marie Stopes Campaign, organised by the Northern Ireland-based group Precious Life, is to begin a rally at 10am close to the clinic’s offices on Great Victoria Street.
Northern Irish law only permits abortion up to nine weeks in order to preserve the life of the mother, or if continuing with the pregnancy will result in serious risks to the physical or mental health of the mother. Terminations will be available to women across the island of Ireland, under medical advice.
Marie Stopes International has acknowledged a rally is to take place in protest against its opening in Belfast, but has urged supporters not to counter protest.
On its website, it says:
We are aware that some groups may be planning protests against the opening of the centre on Thursday. In response to these planned protests we have been working with the police in order to protect the women and men coming to our centre, and to ensure public safety. We would therefore ask that people consider not organising or attending any counter protests.
The organisation suggests:
If you would like to show your support for the centre, we would encourage you to continue to do so using social and traditional media.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Edwin Poots, said that the clinic will be monitored and regulated, and he is seeking advice on how to do this.
Read: NI health minister taking legal advice on regulating abortion clinic>
Read: ‘Don’t counter-demonstrate in Belfast’, Marie Stopes International urges>