Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

MLAs' legislation move could scupper Belfast abortion clinic

Pro life campaigners outside Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast
Pro life campaigners outside Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast

A private clinic located in Belfast city centre that carries out abortions may be forced to axe the controversial service within months, it has emerged.

The SDLP and DUP have combined forces to propose the introduction of legislation which would make it illegal for a termination to be carried out in any building other than a health service facility.

It would also be illegal to receive payment for abortions, meaning that Marie Stopes would no longer be able to offer terminations to women at its facility on Great Victoria Street.

The Assembly is due to consider the proposal, jointly tabled by the SDLP's Alban Maginness and the DUP's Paul Givan, next Tuesday. The two parties have 52 out of the 108 seats at the Assembly, meaning they only need to pick up a further three votes next week to get the majority required for the proposal to succeed.

It would then have to pass a number of stages to be passed into law, but it is understood this could be in place within months.

The move has been criticised by women's groups and pro-choice organisations. A spokeswoman for the organisations, which includes Alliance for Choice and QUB FemSoc, said: "The extent of the politicians' inconsistent approach is further evidenced by the Assembly's general willingness to use the private sector for what many would see as too much of our healthcare provision.

"There have been revelations this week that the Department of Health has spent £130m contracting services to private health firms in the last three years but now they are to make abortion the one procedure that cannot be carried out in the private sector.

"Breathtaking is the only word to sum up the level of hypocrisy."

A spokeswoman from Marie Stopes last night said it fully complies with the law in each of the 41 countries in which it operates.

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