In Belfast, Northern Ireland today, Marie Stopes International will open Northern Ireland’s first abortion clinic. Marie Stopes International plans to perform chemical abortions until the ninth week of pregnancy in Northern Ireland. (Marie Stopes International will also be providing chemical abortions to women traveling from the Republic of Ireland.)
Similar to the Republic of Ireland, abortion law in Northern Ireland is very restrictive. It allows for the procedure only in very narrow circumstances. According to Northern Irish law, abortion is only permissible if it is done when the life of the mother is threatened or to prevent serious permanent damage to the health of the mother, which includes both physical and mental health.
Marie Stopes International gives the rational of preventing “unnecessary deaths” from unsafe abortion as one of the reasons for setting up shop in Northern Ireland as well as in the 42 other countries around the world where they operate.[i]
Their rationale won’t hold water. The truth is that Ireland (with highly restrictive abortion laws in both Northern Ireland and the Republic) has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world—at 1-2 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births.
A study from Ireland[ii] last December compares Irish maternal mortality rates, as well as other factors concerning maternal and child health, with data from England and Scotland—where abortion is legal and widely available. The Irish study found that maternal mortality rates were significantly higher in England and Scotland at about 10 and 10—12 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, respectively. Evidently, greater access to abortion does not provide greater protection to women as abortion advocates claim.
By opening a chemical abortion clinic in Northern Ireland, Marie Stopes International will not be acting to advance women’s health, but to diminish it. This effort is misguided and tragic for both Irish women and their unborn children.
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[i] “Media backgrounder: Marie Stopes Northern Ireland,” Marie Stopes International, Last updated October 18, 2012 11:09am, available for download at https://www.mariestopes.org/media/marie-stopes-northern-ireland-opens-belfast.
[ii] Clarke Forsythe, “New study of Irish health and population data shows positive women’s health trends while Ireland’s abortion law has been in effect.” Americans United for Life (March 19, 2012), available at https://www.aul.org/2012/03/new-study-of-irish-health-and-population-data-shows-positive-women%E2%80%99s-health-trends-while-ireland%E2%80%99s-abortion-law-has-been-in-effect/.