American pro-life clinic to open in Belfast


Pro-life organisations have welcomed the decision by a non-profit orgnisation specialising in "unexpected pregnancy care" to open a clinic in Belfast.

Stanton Healthcare is to offer free ultrasound scans at the clinic, which will open early next year.

The organisation, which until now has run clinics only in the US, claims that nine out of ten "abortion-vulnerable women" who have ultrasound scans at their clinic choose to go ahead with the pregnancy.

Stanton Healthcare, which has clinics in Idaho and California, has described itself as "a revolutionary organisation that seeks to replace abortion businesses around the world".

It was founded in Boise, Idaho, by a Christian activist called Brandi Swindell in 2009.

The BBC is reporting that representatives from Stanton Healthcare recently visited Belfast and identified premises on Great Victoria Street in the city as a site.

The new clinic would therefore be close to Belfast's Marie Stopes clinic, which has been open since 2012.

Stanton Healthcare is a faith-based organisation but is not affiliated to any Christian denomination.

Its mission is to prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and to provide women facing an unplanned pregnancy with "life-affirming options".

On its website, the clinic states: "We believe that all life is created with an intrinsic value.

"We are motivated to uphold the dignity of women and the lives of their children.

"Stanton Healthcare provides broad-based services to the women and men experiencing an unexpected pregnancy in an environment that upholds physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

It is already working closely with the Northern Ireland-based pro-life organisation, Precious Life.

Bernadette Smyth from Precious Life welcomed the plans.

"We would hope that women in crisis pregnancy would be given free ultrasound, free pregnancy tests and support," she told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"We want to provide a better service that's not available here."

Domenica Roberts, chair of the Pro-Life Alliance, told Christian Today: "We welcome anything that offers practical help to women to avoid an abortion.

"A lot of people are very shocked at the number of abortions that take place, especially late abortions. An ultrasound allows them to see what a baby looks like, even at 12 weeks.

"They see they are already completely human, waving their little hands and shaking their tiny feet.

"The more they know, the more worried people get.

"When the law was introduced, there was a lot of talk about safeguards and about how rare it would be. The same arguments are being used now about euthanasia."

In Northern Ireland, Justice Minister David Ford is to consult on changing abortion laws to allow women carrying babies with fatal foetal abnormalities to have a termination.

Proposed legislation will be published soon.