Most to go abroad for abortion despite clinic opening in North
MOST women who want an abortion will still have to go abroad for the procedure despite the opening of a new clinic in Belfast.
The clinic, which opens next week in Great Victoria Street in central Belfast will provide an early medical abortion up to nine weeks of pregnancy if the life of a woman is at immediate risk or if there is long-term or permanent risk to her health.
Tracey McNeill, vice-president of Marie Stopes International which operates the Belfast clinic, told the Irish Independent she expects the number of terminations carried out there will be very small.
"Unlike mainland UK, the grounds are very limited," she said.
"There will be a detailed clinical assessment by two doctors and they will decide if the woman meets the very limited criteria.
"The majority of women will not meet the criteria," she added.
Last year 4,149 women from the Republic had abortions in the UK of whom 2,840 terminated the pregnancy within nine weeks.
The rest of the terminations were carried in later pregnancy.
The time limit for abortion in the UK is 24 weeks.
No details are available showing the grounds on which the Irish women had abortions and how many were for social reasons.
The cost of the abortion in Belfast will be €440 with another €95 consultation fee -- the same fee charged in its London clinic.
The clinic has met with angry protests from pro-life campaigners. Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign said it would be deplorable if Marie Stopes was allowed to impose an abortion regime on Northern Ireland.
"Clearly the official guidelines in Northern Ireland setting out the distinction between medical treatments in pregnancy and abortion need to be strengthened in light of what is being proposed," she said.
However, Pro-choice campaigners called on the Government to legislation for abortion here.