Marie Stopes praises staff who treated ‘hundreds’ of people during first year of Belfast clinic
Organisation stands by policy of not revealing abortion statistics
Dawn Purvis, programme director with Marie Stopes Northern Ireland: “I am humbled by the appreciation expressed by the hundreds of men and women who use our services.” Photograph: Paul Faith/PA
Marie Stopes Northern Ireland is marking the first anniversary today of the opening of its Belfast clinic, claiming “hundreds” of men and women have availed of its services.
In a statement marking the event, Dawn Purvis, former Progressive Unionist leader, Assembly member and now director of Marie Stopes NI, said she looked to the coming year “offering choice to the women and men who need our services”.
The Belfast clinic said it was marking the “first year that the people of Northern Ireland have been able to visit a single health centre for information, advice and help with contraception, HIV and sexually transmitted infections and – where the legal requirements are met – early medical abortion”.
Marie Stopes does not provide figures on the numbers of abortions sought or carried out in Belfast despite being pressed by legislators at Stormont.
Last January, less than three months after it opened its city-centre clinic, senior Marie Stopes figures, UK and Europe director Tracey McNeill and Ms Purvis, were questioned by the Assembly’s health committee for more than two hours. Ms McNeill said the clinic’s mission was clear – “children by choice not chance”.
Asked how many abortions had taken place or were expected to take place at its Belfast clinic, she replied: “We will not be releasing any figures or numbers around the number of men and women that we have seen at our clinic.” She said Marie Stopes wanted to maintain the confidentiality of its Belfast operations. At present there is no legal requirement to release such information.
Marking the anniversary Ms Purvis said: “I am very proud of my team and the way they treat everyone who comes through our door with compassion and respect, and I am humbled by the appreciation expressed by the hundreds of men and women who use our services.”