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Protests outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast in 2012

An abortion clinic in Belfast has been training volunteers to escort clients past anti-abortion protesters. Escorts trained in the use of body-worn cameras have been accompanying clients of the Marie Stopes clinic to and from its city centre building.

A Northern Ireland Assembly member has said the measure is an over-reaction to the protests. There have been regular protests since the clinic opened in Great Victoria Street in 2012.

Clinic director Dawn Purvis said the protests were having an effect on clients, and that the clinic had to respond. “The women that come to us are very upset and very frightened by the behaviour of the protesters,” she said. “Our volunteers have been through a vetting scheme and a very intense training course in de-escalation methods and how to deal with conflict.”

The escorts have also been trained in additional security measures including body-worn CCTV cameras and distress calls.

However, DUP MLA Jim Wells supports the protests outside the clinic and said they are important and peaceful. “I have spoken to some of the protesters and they do try to talk to women and persuade them not to have an abortion, but certainly watching what goes on, I don’t see anything that would cause me concern.” He said the clinic has gone “over the top” by introducing the escort scheme and additional security measures.

Meanwhile, an harassment case against Precious Life founder Bernie Smyth is due to resume on Tuesday next.

Anti-abortion campaigner harassed Purvis, court told (Irish News)

Marie Stopes clinic in protest escorts move (Robbie Meredith, BBC News NI)

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

27 thoughts on “Love Them Both

  1. Tony the Toy Gur

    Broadsheet, you have a choice of only the following.

    1. Pictures of that harp bridge thing under every conceivable weather condition, or

    2. Stories about abortion and bishops and stuff.

    1. Odis

      Abortion post for me every time Tony

      I’m confused – I thought that they didn’t do abortions in Northern Ireland

  2. Mulch

    As if the women who have made the choice to have an abortion haven’t already mentally tortured themselves about their decision, these dopes harass them from their ivory towers.
    You’re fully entitled to your opinion on the abortion debate, but you are nothing short of a bully to be harassing these women.

    1. Drogg

      But its more then just that, when they have these protests and stands on o’connell st they wave around graphic images and placards that firstly are not abortion images and secondly do it in full view of kids.

      1. Liggy

        Oh the anti-choice brigade are not so keen on sparing the feelings of children once they are born. In fact they give not a sh** for them. They don’t fit into their political agenda you see. Once they are born….ugh, of no interest.

        They are plenty keen on demeaning the women who make the hard choice to have an abortion. They are pretty keen on torturing anyone who cannot avert their eyes in time with these horrible images.
        Such is the path of the small-minded, inconsiderate, ignorant and backward brigade that they are.

    1. ZeligIsJaded

      Cameras are all well and good, but I can think of a few instruments I’d rather the escorts were trained with

  3. missred

    That creationist bigot Jim Wells can feck off, as can Bernie Smyth.

    Way to get the protestors to back off? Tell them you’re going for your genital warts treatment and offer to show them. They’ll probably offer to pray for your pustules though.

    Sadly this training appears to be absolutely necessary for patients’ safety.

  4. Frilly Keane, Anyone?

    D’mind the body cams lads

    The only capital equipment Marie Stopes Ltd need to invest in is a good solid reliable slurry spreader.

    That’ll do the jobbie

  5. Clampers Outside!

    Yep, creepy alright, really creepy that he thinks this is acceptable.

    Would it be OK for me to stand outside his church and chastise his parishioners as they walk in the door for his sermon? Shout names at them like “deluded fool” or “get your head out of his ass and think for yourself” or “stop listening to this mans’ hate speech”.
    Could I stand there with a placard saying the man they go to hear preach is a bigot (twice today I’ve used that word, grrr). That the world is not 5,000 years old or any other nonsense this fool preaches. Would he like that, would that be acceptable? No? Grrrrr, again.

    Dumb pig ignorant

  6. pedeyw

    Jim Wells thinks the universe was created in 6 24 hour periods 6000 years ago. While I’m not usually one to have a go at peoples beliefs, young earth creationism is such head-in-the-sand denialism that I would have serious doubts about the judgement and critical thinking of any of its proponents.
    And I hate feeling like a militant internet atheist because I’m not.

  7. Dubloony

    If I protested outside any other medical facility, like say an STD clinic, how long would it be before I was arrested?
    This is seriously not OK. I really don’t understand why some people are so obsessed with this issue that they would stand there harassing women.

    And not all women are going there for abortions, there’s other medical reasons that women go to women’s clinics.

    1. missred

      The Marie Stopes clinic is like the Well Woman, it does indeed offer STI tests and treatments, contraception, pregnancy counselling of the neutral kind, scans, referrals etc. NI’s narrow law means the medical abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol cannot be prescribed just to those who request them, sadly. They must fulfil crappy criteria like your life being threatened.

  8. Bernard Dalton

    Liggy – Why is abortion a “hard choice”?

    Mulch – Why would the women have “mentally tortured themselves about their decision”?

    It’s just a bunch of cells, right?

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