Belfast Telegraph

Belfast pregnancy centre 'links abortion with cancer'

By Gillian Halliday

A Belfast pregnancy centre set up by US anti-abortion activists is falsely telling women abortion causes breast cancer and infertility, an investigation has found.

The Times reported that a counsellor at Stanton Healthcare, based on Great Victoria Street, was secretly recorded telling an undercover reporter that she was "too beautiful for abortion" and a termination would make her breasts "fill with cancer". The centre describes itself as providing "up-to-date, medically accurate information" to pregnant women.

The reporter, claiming to be five weeks pregnant, was reportedly told by the Stanton counsellor that she faced a 50% higher risk of breast cancer by having an abortion before a first child.

The counsellor is also reported to have said: "Girls under 18 who have an abortion - this is drastic - the risk of developing breast cancer increases by 100%."

She also is reported to have claimed that tens of thousands of cancers had been "directly linked to abortion". These claims have been debunked by medical professionals and condemned by a senior gynaecologist as "despicable" bullying of vulnerable women.

Stanton Healthcare, set up by US Christian activist Brandi Swindell, opened in Belfast in 2015, with the backing of high-profile anti-abortion group, Precious Life.

Bernie Smyth of Precious Life told the Belfast Telegraph she wasn't in a "position to comment" and urged us to contact the centre directly.

Since the investigations, UK regulations have been tightened in a bid to crack down on agencies who mislead women seeking information on abortion.

Once the industry is regulated the government plans to change the law so that anyone using the title of crisis pregnancy counsellor would have to be registered.

Anyone posing as a counsellor could face criminal charges.

Stanton Healthcare was contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, but did not respond last night.

However, it told The Times: "Many women in Northern Ireland have sought and found invaluable support at Stanton Belfast during their pregnancy and beyond."

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