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Dawn Purvis, programme director of Marie Stopes Northern Ireland in the new Belfast clinic Photo by: Google Images

Abortion activists go head to head over new Belfast clinic - VIDEO

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Dawn Purvis, programme director of Marie Stopes Northern Ireland in the new Belfast clinic Photo by: Google Images

There has been a strong response to the planned opening of Ireland’s first abortion clinic in Belfast.

Pro-choice groups have welcomed the move, while anti-abortion groups have described it as an outrage.

A spokeswoman for Marie Stops, a sexual health charity, has predicted that women will travel from the Republic for termination at the private clinic which is due to open next Thursday.

The centre's programme director, Dawn Purvis, a former leader of the Progressive Unionist party said: "We believe this is great news for the people of Northern Ireland because we will be able to meet their family planning and sexual health needs in a way that has not been seen here before. We have a new, purpose-built, centrally located specialist centre.

“Our team are highly trained and dedicated healthcare professionals. And our services will be delivered in a confidential, sensitive and non-judgmental way."

From October 18th on, women aged over 16 from the 26 counties will be able to make an appointment at the new clinic on Great Victoria Street. Abortions will only be carried out in limited circumstances if a mother’s life is in danger or there it is a serious threat to her physical or mental health.

Read More: Ireland’s first abortion clinic opens in Belfast despite opposition - POLL

Sinéad Ahern, a spokeswoman for Choice Ireland said the new clinic will reduce the "psychological and financial burden" on women seeking terminations.

Bernie Smith, an anti abortion campaigner from the Precious Life said an organisation which is making profits from the death of unborn children is not welcome in Northern Ireland.

“I am absolutely outraged,” she said. “There will be an outcry from the people, from government and from the churches."

The Guardian reports that the clinic will offer abortions in the first nine weeks of pregnancy at a cost of £450 ($722). Marie Stops will also provide sexual health advice and reproductive services.

The termination process will involve taking tablets which will be administered after two doctors agree that the patient meets a set criteria, according to Dr Paula Franklin, medical director with Marie Stopes.

"In cases where we feel the woman's case meets medical requirements, we will carry out medical abortions. That's where two doctors independently review the woman's history and current physical and mental health," she said

Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots said he was confident Marie Stopes International will work within the law.

"An operation in Northern Ireland for the termination of a pregnancy may not result in criminal liability when it is necessary to preserve the life of the woman or there is a risk of real and serious adverse effect on her physical or mental health, which is either long term or permanent.

"This condition applies no less strongly before nine weeks than longer into the pregnancy."

Last year, 4,149 women from the Republic travelled to England or Wales for an abortion, as well as 1,007 women from Northern Ireland, according to the Irish Times.

 Abortion Clinic Will Open In Northern Ireland, First Ever Private Clinic width\

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