The first abortion clinic on the island of Ireland has opened in Belfast.
Women over the age of 16 will now be able to make appointments for abortion even though it remains illegal in the Irish Republic.
The clinic will offer abortions up to nine week’s pregnancy, as well as offering contraceptive advice, HIV testing, and sexual disease testing. Two doctors will decide whether the abortion can go ahead.
The clinic will be owned and operated by Marie Stopes International, one of the leading abortion service providers in Britain.
Opposition is already mounting.
Bernie Smyth, of the Anti-Abortion group Precious Life, told the BBC that members want the centre closed before its scheduled opening.
The cost per abortion will be $500 according to clinic operators.
While abortion is legal in Britain, religious opposition in Northern Ireland on all sides has stopped abortion clinics there.
The Belfast center’s programme director is Dawn Purvis, the former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, a fringe loyalist party, said it was time for such a clinic.
She stated: “We offer a safe place for women and men to find support, be provided with help and counselling, to feel that they are being listened to and not judged. It is a matter of choice, every step of the way.
“A woman may decide that she does not want to choose a termination. If she does, then offering early medical abortion cuts out the stress of having to travel outside Northern Ireland to access those services.”
According to The Irish Times, 1,007 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England or Wales for an abortion, and 4,149 women from the Republic.
Purvis stated that the centre would operate within all legal frameworks.
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