Marie Stopes UK today (Tuesday 5th December) announced that it is closing its independent clinic in Belfast, following the UK Government’s move to fund abortion treatment for Northern Irish women.
Abortion law in Northern Ireland is much more restrictive than the rest of the United Kingdom and more than three-quarters of Northern Irish women already come to Marie Stopes UK directly via its national referral service. The closure of the Belfast clinic on December 8th will enable the charity to focus its resources so that Northern Irish women can better access funded treatment 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.
“When we opened in Belfast, many local women, and even some local GPs, were not aware of a woman’s legal options. For five years, our Belfast team has provided the services allowed within a highly restrictive legal framework and worked tirelessly to drive awareness of women’s options.
“We are incredibly proud of all that our team has achieved in Belfast. However, we also have to recognise that, due to the UK Government’s funding announcement, the way Northern Irish women access services is changing. Today more than three-quarters of the Northern Irish women we see come to us directly via our national referral service. We expect this proportion to increase further now that treatment in England has been made more accessible.
“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.”
Notes to Editors:
About Marie Stopes UK
Marie Stopes UK is a specialist independent provider of sexual and reproductive health services in the UK. We are part of the world leading reproductive and sexual heath charity Marie Stopes International, based in almost 40 countries around the world.
Here in the UK we have over 60 locations and strive to provide a supportive service for women and men. Through our team of highly skilled doctors, nurses, counsellors and healthcare assistants we provide reproductive sexual health services including abortion, vasectomy, and contraception fitting. For more information, please visit our website www.mariestopes.org.uk