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Northern Ireland’s only abortion clinic shut down

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Britain’s second largest abortion provider has closed its clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, meaning that abortions are no longer available in the province outside of NHS hospitals.

The clinic, a branch of Marie Stopes International opened in 2012 to much opposition. Persistent challenge came primarily from Precious Life, a group dedicated to protecting Northern Ireland’s women and pre-born children from pro-abortion legislation and its consequences.

Precious Life

Directed by the charismatic and devoted Bernadette Smyth, Precious Life regularly organised prayer vigils outside Marie Stopes in Belfast. Celebrating the closure of the clinic as ‘a massive prolife victory’, Smith said:

“When Marie Stopes opened in Belfast in 2012, Precious Life made a vow to ‘close the door’ on Marie Stopes. For the past 5 years, Precious Life has maintained a pro-life presence outside the office – sacrificing many hours in reaching out to abortion-minded women, thus saving countless lives…Marie Stopes has never been needed - nor wanted! - in Northern Ireland…This closure of Marie Stopes Belfast is all down to the dedication, commitment, and hard work of Precious Life volunteers.”

But what of women in crisis?

While Marie Stopes has explained the closure by pointing to the government's promise of free abortionsfor Northern Irish women at clinics in England, this will almost certainly not satisfy pro-abortion lobbyists who desire liberalisation of Northern Ireland’s laws. 

The country remains the only part of the United Kingdom to maintain its tight abortion regulations. Current Northern Irish legislation allows for abortions only to preserve the life of the mother or if continuing the pregnancy would have other serious, permanent physical or mental health effects, these qualifications being strictly assessed by two medical professionals. While Belfast’s Marie Stopes claimed to operate within these laws, their absence will be felt as a major blow to the pro-abortion cause.

Wherever access to abortion is threatened, the common reaction of pro-abortion activists is to paint pro-life groups as not caring about the lives of women in crisis pregnancy situations. ‘Where will women in crisis go to get the counsel and help they need?’ they often ask. They present abortion on demand as ‘women’s right to healthcare’; any pro-life perspective is painted as inhumane and life-limiting.

Far from life-limiting, pro-life concerns are life-loving and pro-life laws are life-liberating both for women and pre-born children. Caring for the life of the pre-born must walk hand-in-hand with caring for the good of the pregnant mother. While Precious Life celebrates the closure of Northern Ireland’s only private abortion clinic, its work is not complete and it recognises this.

Bernadette Smyth has indicated the next plan for Precious Life’s activity saying:

“We will now accelerate our efforts in helping women with unplanned pregnancies, liaising with agencies like Stanton Healthcare NI - because women and babies deserve better than Marie Stopes.”

Items for prayer

Thank God for the closure of Marie Stopes in Belfast.

Continue to pray that Northern Ireland will be protected from pro-abortion legislation.

Pray for Bernadette Smyth and Precious Life and their ongoing work to protect mothers and pre-born babies.

Pray that the government’s plan to open access to abortion for Northern Irish women in England will fail and that women will find the genuine and life-loving aid they need rather than being fast-tracked towards abortion. 

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