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.

Why is there very little utility to women’s clothing? Why don’t we get pockets which actually open? Why do we have to put up with the ‘false pockets’ that are frequently sewn onto women’s jackets and pants to give visual interest without ruining the ‘line’ of the garment? Why, when pockets are actually present, are they so rarely large, stable, or loose enough to accommodate a phone or a wallet? And why, given this is the case, do women go on to cop so much flack for carrying handbags around with them?

Oh wait. Is this one of those double standards which we feminists are always going on about; one of those innocuous little things which everybody just accepts because it is the norm?

Women carry handbags. It is known.

But why? I have watched my male friends get ready to go out. They slip their wallet into one pocket, their keys into another, their phone into a third pocket, and some of them even still have spare pockets large enough to carry a novel for the journey. Those of my friends who wear women’s clothes, though, face an entirely different situation. If they are wearing the right jeans or jacket, they may have up to two usable pockets (not at all guaranteed). However, in most cases they won’t have any pockets at all. Utility and style rarely meet in women’s fashion, so they grab a bag.

Contrary to all the jokes, most women don’t ‘have’ to leave the house with everything they pack in their day-to-day handbag. Most of the items in a woman’s everyday handbag are in there because, if she’s going to have to carry it anyway, she might as well make it worth her while. Excuse us for making use of the one useful item we find in our wardrobes.