The first abortion clinic in Northern Ireland will open next week amid fears it will attract protests along the lines of violent opposition to similar facilities in some US states.
The privately-run clinic in Belfast will be run by the Marie Stopes group, which said it would offer “a wide range of family planning and sexual health services under one roof”.
It is extremely difficult to get an abortion in Northern Ireland, and pro-life groups and smaller political parties have already voiced opposition to the Marie Stopes clinic.
Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice party told BBC radio: “Where is the need for this clinic? There could not possibly be one.
“So there are ulterior motives and I suspect the ulterior motives might be to try and push the boundaries.”
Just 35 pregnancies were terminated in Northern Ireland in the past year and it is estimated that about one thousand women from the province travel to England every year for abortions.
The clinic will not have a police guard because it is privately-run.
I hope everyone there will be safe.
Hoping that this will provide a much needed resource. The situation for women in Northern Ireland, which is still a part of the UK, is one of the gross unfairnesses in the UK health system. On another note, every day on my way to work (in London) I pass a Marie Stopes clinic and their is a religious presence outside. They have crucifixes, pictures of babies, bibles and leaflets. There are ususally 2 or 3 of them, 1 right outside the clinic and 2 across the road. It winds me up so much. Who are they to pressure women at such a vulnerable time. Very few women make such a decision lightly and the ones that do are unlikely to be swayed by their brand of judgement. (Apologies for venting here, but they wind me up so much.) However, if this is the limit of what they do at the Northern Ireland clinic, then overall it will be a win.