No Marie Stopes abortions in Northern Ireland: Criminal Code Bill amendment launched
BELFAST, March 1, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – An amendment to the province’s abortion law has been put forward by two members of Northern Ireland’s Legislative Assembly intended to put a stop to the work of the Marie Stopes abortion facility that opened late last year. Abortion remains a criminal act in Northern Ireland, a fact that has placed the province in the cross hairs of the international abortion lobby. Last October, in a surprise move, Marie Stopes International (MSI), Britain’s leading abortionist organization, opened an abortion facility in the center of Belfast, claiming that they were acting within the law.
Northern Ireland’s Attorney General disagreed and pressure has been on MLAs to close the storefront abortion facility. The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill was tabled jointly by DUP MLA, Paul Givan and SDLP MLA, Alban Maginness. The amendment will make it a criminal offense to deliberately end the life of an unborn child. Pro-life supporters of the amendment hope that when it is passed, it will close the Belfast facility within weeks.
The amendment is scheduled to be debated and voted upon on March 5 and is thought likely to pass. It would allow a legal defence only for “lawful” authorised NHS abortions carried out to “save the mother’s life.”
“Abortion in Northern Ireland is regulated by the criminal justice system," Givan and Maginnis said in a joint statement. "The unborn child is given protection under our law, upholding the most basic of human rights – the right to life."
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They said evidence about the opening of the Marie Stopes clinic raised "grave concerns...regarding the ability of private clinics to carry out abortive procedures without any form of transparency, oversight, or accountability to the public.”
Marie Stopes issued a statement saying they would comply with any changes in law.
However, the organization is known for flouting local statutes and for its aggressive tactics against any opposition. The Zambian government banned the group last year after it was discovered they had committed at least 490 illegal abortions under Zambian law. At about the same time, MSI threatened to file a massive lawsuit against a tiny crisis pregnancy center in Britain that was offering material assistance to pregnant mothers.
Liam Gibson, the development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the opening of the Marie Stopes facility in Belfast forced the hand of the Assembly. MSI, Gibson said, has long been in the lead of an international campaign to extend the UK’s Abortion Act into Northern Ireland.
When questioned before the Assembly’s Justice Committee in January, Marie Stopes representatives claimed that there was no legal barrier for them to provide early term “medical” or chemical abortions up to 18 or even 24 weeks gestations. They admitted to the committee that the central location of the new facility was chosen to facilitate clients travelling from the Republic of Ireland to have abortions in Northern Ireland.
“At the same time they made it clear that MSI simply would not tolerate any official oversight of its activities by the government authorities in Northern Ireland. That is a position which the Assembly can't allow to continue and made the introduction of new legislation inevitable,” Gibson said.