Today (10 October 2012) Marie Stopes Northern Ireland opened its first sexual and reproductive health centre in Belfast – the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Dawn Purvis, Programme Director at Marie Stopes Northern Ireland 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 health care professionals; and our services will be delivered in a confidential, sensitive and non-judgemental way.
Marie Stopes International is well known for focussing on offering services where they are needed most and a centre like ours has never existed before in Northern Ireland – we know that people here want this kind of world class service.
Women in Northern Ireland are denied the same rights to abortion as women in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Abortion Act 1967 did not extend to Northern Ireland.Rather, the Offences against the Person Act 1861, the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 make it illegal except in exceptional circumstances. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 allows abortion when necessary to protect the mother’s physical and mental health, but risk must be immediate. An ‘illegal’ abortion is punishable with imprisonment for life or for any shorter term.