I support Marie Stopes Belfast

Today, something amazing happened. A tiny, incremental step that will change lives for the better. An abortion clinic opened up. Not just any abortion clinic, though. This one is in Belfast, in the heart of a country where reproductive choice and bodily autonomy is a right which has been historically denied to women.

Women in Northern Ireland (and the Republic, where the law is similar), have to travel to mainland Britain to access abortion. The opening of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast has changed this.

It’s offering contraception advice, help for women, and medical abortions up to nine weeks. It’s not enough, of course it’s not enough, it’s hamstrung by its attempts to comply with existing regulations, but in the context it’s a giant leap. They’re there, in the open, saying “women have abortions and that’s OK. We’re here to help.” And of course it’s drawn the usual attempts to shut down and silence from the usual suspects.

Today, on its opening day, the clinic is plagued by religious fundamentalists and fascists harrassing people. The clinic has asked for there not to be a counter-demo, which is fair enough as a confrontation is the last thing women trying to access abortion in such a hostile environment need.

However, there’s some things that can be done. I hope that in Belfast, a network of abortion escorts is being drawn up; people who can meet women accessing the clinic and guide them through the rabble of fascists safely. I hope there’s other measures for safety to counter these affronts on bodily freedom.

And for those of us who are not physically in Northern Ireland, we need to be loud and vocal in our support, and drown out the clamour of those who seek to control our bodies. Speak out about your support for what Marie Stopes are doing in Belfast.

Attempts to increase access to abortion are important, and I applaud the bravery of Marie Stopes International.


6 responses to “I support Marie Stopes Belfast

  • Aoife O'Riordan

    Reblogged this on Consider the Tea Cosy and commented:
    ” I hope that in Belfast, a network of abortion escorts is being drawn up; people who can meet women accessing the clinic and guide them through the rabble of fascists safely. I hope there’s other measures for safety to counter these affronts on bodily freedom.

    And for those of us who are not physically in Northern Ireland, we need to be loud and vocal in our support, and drown out the clamour of those who seek to control our bodies. Speak out about your support for what Marie Stopes are doing in Belfast.”

  • Alan Browne

    Norther Ireland should be brought into line with the law in the rest of the UK

  • jemima101

    If there are not befrienders for women there perhaps that is something those of us over the water could help with. There are organisations who help women coming to the mainland, I am wondering if something similar might be started for women attending the Marie Stopes clinic, if it does not already exist.

  • shereent

    Thanks for writing this post.

    I decided to walk passed the Marie Stopes clinic at lunchtime yesterday, to see the protest for myself. The anti-choice protest was spread out along the street on both the footpath and the road.There was a very small protest in support of Marie Stopes, but you wouldn’t have known it unless you were walking on the same side of the footpath. They were standing right up against the clinic, in a single line, and practically hidden by police, media and the barricaded off anti-choice protesters. I only realised they were there when I heard a shout of “We support Marie Stopes!”

    There were barriers up to separate the anti-choice protesters from traffic, but the gap left for pedestrians on the footpath was only single file. This caused enough of a bottleneck for me to get stuck beside the barriers for long enough for an anti-choice protester to brandish her “abortion – we can live without it” placard at me. I’ll be honest, I jumped a mile.

    Then, since I was stuck in the crowd, I said “do you know that many of those Marie Stopes supporters are pro-choice, not pro-abortion, and would protest if the government tried to bring in a law that would make women have an abortion against their will?” She said “Would they? That’s a very good thing.” I said “It is, isn’t it. No woman should be forced to do anything against her will, either way.” She said “No, no, indeed not.” So I asked her “So why can’t you support the women whose choice is to have an abortion?” She said “Because they’re wrong.”

  • ninetenthsremoved

    Blogged on this a little myself as I was disgusted by the protests and believe them to be inconsiderate and abusive to passers by.. no one needs those placard images inflicted on them. The thing is, Marie Stopes in Belfast will not be offering terminatio of pregnancy up until 9 weeks to just anyone…they have a legal requirement to follow the same basis as the Royal Victoria Hospital.. therefore… family planning being one thing… the terminations can only take place under exceptional circumstances.

    This unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that thousands of women are still going to be travelling to the mainland until the law changes.

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