The first private abortion clinic will open in Belfast next week.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where the Abortion Act 1967 does not apply, owing to opposition from the churches and almost all the parties at the Stormont assembly. Like their counterparts in the Republic, where abortions are illegal, women from Northern Ireland have to travel to elsewhere in Britain for terminations.But the clinic will provide only medical abortions and the National Health Service won't cover the pretty hefty price.
Terminations will only be offered to women in the first nine weeks of pregnancy and will cost £450. The new city centre clinic, which opens next Thursday, also offers a range of sexual and reproductive services including short and long-term contraceptive options, emergency contraception and HIV testing.Irish women needing abortions past nine weeks will still have to travel, find a place to stay overnight, and pay for all that.
There is definitely a need for the service.
Last year, 4,149 women from Ireland travelled to England or Wales for an abortion, as did 1,007 women from Northern Ireland.In one respect, however, it is fabulous thing. As this piece puts it: Finally we can be open about Irish abortions.
Fetus fetishists always point to Ireland where abortion is outlawed and where maternal and infant mortality is very low as proof that banning abortion does NOT cause dangerous illegal procedures done by dodgy operators.
Not when there's a country where it's legal just a short hop away.
Irish women do have abortions. The truth can now be told.
Well. Maybe not just yet. Expect more of this: 'Marie Stopes: the clinics named after a Jew-baiting racist', written by a 'priest of the Church of England' yet.
Like Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes was a progressive and controversial woman of her time.
But progress is progress. Even in Ireland, it seems, women's rights cannot be held back forever.