US pro-life Stanton center opens next to Marie Stopes abortion facility in Ireland
BELFAST, Ireland, October 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The American pro-life association Stanton Healthcare opened its first international affiliate center in Belfast on Tuesday. In keeping with Stanton's modus operandi, it's in a "very strategic location," says U.S. founder Brandi Swindell.
Stanton Healthcare Belfast is, in fact, on the same street as the Marie Stopes abortion facility and is also near another abortion center, International Family Planning Association. Stanton's website says the center was launched "in direct opposition to the abortion business of Marie Stopes."
Location was key to Swindell's mission when she started the first Stanton Healthcare in Boise, Idaho, in 2006. The idea was "why not go where the women are?," the Christian pro-life activist told LifeSiteNews in a telephone interview from Ireland.
Her flagship center is "right next door to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Boise," and "we get walk-ins every week," she said.
"The approach and the strategy work really well, just to make sure that women know that there's more than one option, there's life-affirming alternatives, there's compassionate solutions to unexpected pregnancies, and that's what women deserve."
Swindell has been working with Bernadette Smyth, director of Northern Ireland's Precious Life pro-life association, who "saw what we were doing and said, 'I'd love to see Stanton come to Belfast.'"
The newly opened center on Victoria Street offers free ultrasounds and medical care, as well as counseling for women who have had abortions, according to a Telegraph report.
The free ultrasound exam is significant, notes Swindell, adding that Stanton Boise has also converted an RV into a mobile pro-life clinic.
"When a woman can see what's going on inside her body, which she deserves to know – when she can see that, and when she knows that there's support available, that's a game-changer, in a woman's heart, in her mind, and a game-changer in the public square."
Swindell said that according to Stanton's latest reported data, 92 percent of women who saw ultrasounds of their unborn babies chose not to abort.
Northern Ireland currently restricts legal abortion to cases where the mother's life is in danger, noted Swindell, who said there were 46 abortions in the country last year.
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But Marie Stopes and International Family Planning also refer women for abortions abroad, and according to the Telegraph, an estimated 2,000 Northern Irish women go to England annually for abortions.
Moreover, the "abortion lobby is getting very, very aggressive," Swindell said. "They're trying to get rape and incest and health of the mother exceptions, then kick the door wide open to abortion on demand."
So "we need to be here now. We also want to be ready."
According to the Telegraph, 200 women signed an open letter in June admitting they had had medical abortions or helped other women get abortions, which is a crime in Northern Ireland.
Perhaps as a testament to the increasingly charged atmosphere, Precious Life's Symth was slapped with a restraining order and 100 hours of community service in December for allegedly "harassing" Marie Stopes's former director Dawn Purvis, the Telegraph reported. The conviction was reversed on appeal because of "insufficient evidence."
A statement from Precious Life described the Stanton Belfast pro-life center as a "revolution in pregnancy care" and stated that its plan was to supplant Marie Stopes.
"Since the opening of Marie Stopes in Belfast in 2012, women in Northern Ireland have been exploited and used by greedy abortion providers like Marie Stopes who care more about making profit than they do about supporting vulnerable women," it stated.
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith was in Ireland to take part in the center's launch, which included an October 16 fundraising dinner where Swindell spoke about Stanton Healthcare's expansion.
It has opened affiliates in Charlotte, North Carolina and southern California and is about to open in Detroit, she told LifeSiteNews, adding that she has received affiliate requests from Madrid, Spain, Brussels, Uganda, and South Africa.
"People have been watching what we're doing, and they think the model is just incredible," Swindell said.
It works because "when women are given hope, when they're given quality care, when they're given compassionate solutions, they decide to parent that baby, or place that baby for adoption," she observed. "And it's just a wonderful thing."