American anti-abortion clinic opens in Belfast

Clinic to provide ‘tangible help’ for women facing crisis pregnancies, US congressman says

An American pregnancy healthcare clinic has opened on Great Victoria Street in Belfast. The anti-abortion Stanton Healthcare group officially opened the clinic on Tuesday on the same street where the Marie Stopes clinic is located.

US congressman Chris Smith visited Belfast on Monday to support the opening of the Stanton Healtcare clinic. He and Bernadette Smyth, of the Precious Life group in Northern Ireland, also met a number of SDLP and DUP politicians at Stormont.

Mr Smith, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus, said women using the facility would be “cared for no matter what their circumstances”.

“We have a number of clinics in the States and the value of what Bernadette can offer, you can’t put a price tag on it,” he said. “Women who have been helped, they come back, they volunteer, they radiate love and that is an enormous game changer.”

He described the clinic as a “refuge” where women “can find tangible help and very loving individuals to help with their difficulty”.

Ms Smyth said the clinic would at no cost offer an alternative to abortion. “We believe that women and their unborn children deserve better than abortion. At Stanton, we will provide the best care and practical support for mums to help overcome obstacles in choosing life for her baby,” she said.

Ms Smyth said the new centre “will be offering women facing unexpected pregnancies life-affirming options and quality healthcare”.

Last December Ms Smyth was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and given a five-year order restraining her from harassing Dawn Purvis, who was then director of the Marie Stopes clinic which is about a five-minute walkfrom the Stanton clinic on Great Victoria Street.

Ms Smyth later won her appeal against the conviction.

The American founder and chief executive of Stanton Healthcare, Brandi Swindell, also attended the opening of the clinic.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times