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06/12/2017

Marie Stopes To Close Its Clinic In Belfast

Marie Stopes has confirmed it is to close its clinic in Belfast later this week.

The organisation said the move follows the government's decision to fund abortion services for women in Northern Ireland in England.

Richard Bentley, Managing Director at Marie Stopes UK, said: "Following the UK Government's ground-breaking move to fund abortion services for Northern Irish women using our clinics in England, we believe we can better serve Northern Irish women through our national referral service than through an independent clinic in one part of Northern Ireland. Therefore we have taken the difficult decision that our Belfast clinic will close in December 2017.
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"Ultimately, we believe that Northern Irish law should change to give women the right to access services without having to travel to England. Until that happens, we will continue to provide funded treatment for Northern Irish women in England – services that they should be legally granted in Northern Ireland."

Green Party MLA Clare Bailey said: "The fact that women and girls from here can now access abortion in England for free has clearly impacted on the service. I am proud of my time as clinic escort, and to have been part of such a transformative movement.

"While the Public Prosecution Service has now stated clearly that they can see no risk of criminal prosecution for NHS employees in Northern Ireland who refer women to NHS hospitals and clinics in the rest of the UK for abortions, I have written to the Permanent Secretary of Health Richard Pengelly to update me on the Department's progress on providing guidance to GPs on the new access provided in England with regards to free abortions and ensuring a clear pathway for women accessing abortion from Northern Ireland in the rest of the UK. As yet I have not received a satisfactory answer."

(CD/JP)

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