First abortion clinic to open in Ireland likely to draw protests
DUBLIN — A family planning charity plans to open the first abortion clinic in Ireland, challenging decades of legal confusion over the extremely limited access to pregnancy terminations in both parts of the island.
Officials at the Marie Stopes facility scheduled to open next week in Belfast, capital of the British territory of Northern Ireland, said on Thursday they plan to offer non-surgical abortions to women whose pregnancies are less than nine weeks in gestation. They expect protests and have declined to reveal the clinic's street address.
Women will receive medication that causes a miscarriage only if doctors determine that continued pregnancy would jeopardize their physical or mental health.
Abortions under such circumstances are supposed to be legal already in both parts of Ireland. But lawmakers have failed for decades to clarify the situation, leaving hospitals and doctors fearful of suffering pickets or lawsuits if they're publicly identified as an abortion provider.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland lawmakers have repeatedly bungled the publication of legal guidelines to doctors, while in Dublin, successive Republic of Ireland governments have refused to pass legislation in line with a landmark 1992 Supreme Court judgment. It ordered abortions to be legalized to save a woman's life — including her own threat to commit suicide if denied one.
“The law in Northern Ireland has been very unclear for many women and health care professionals. Our clinic will provide a safe, caring, sensitive environment for integrated family planning in Northern Ireland for the first time,” said Dawn Purvis, director of the new clinic.
Purvis said she expected Republic of Ireland women to travel from the predominantly Catholic south, because they could receive help more quickly and cheaply than traveling to Britain. Dublin is about a two-hour drive from Belfast.
Still, anyone more than nine weeks pregnant, or deemed not at risk from their pregnancy, may end up taking the traditional Irish route for more than 4,000 abortion-seekers annually in Ireland: a flight to Britain, where abortion has been legal since 1967 and today is available to anyone up to 24 weeks pregnant.
But offering abortions under any circumstances is too much for Ireland's devout anti-abortion activists, who say doctors should not receive leeway to authorize terminations on mental health grounds.
The issue unites social conservatives across Northern Ireland's usual divide of British Protestant and Irish Catholic.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Actress Dushku displaced from Pittsburgh hotel by One Direction
- Pittsburgh City Council approves ordinance requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
- Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
- Fayette coroner’s office releases identity of Addison man killed in Route 40 crash
- Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
- Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Coal miner Alpha Natural Resources files for bankruptcy