The Marie Stopes private abortion clinic in Belfast has been officially passed by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority [RQIA].
The regulatory body – which does not assess the clinical decisions made by a doctor in the clinic – carried out a five-hour inspection of the clinic on June 4. The clinic was formally registered on June 27.
The clinic is now regulated under the Independent Health Care Regulations [Northern Ireland] 2005 and will be subject to a minimum of one inspection by RQIA each year.
But DUP MLA Jim Wells said it was important for the public to know that “getting passed by the RQIA does not legitimise what they are trying to do”.
The opening of the clinic in October 2012 saw pro-life groups and others rally in opposition. At the time Attorney General, John Larkin, called for a Stormont committee investigation into the development.
In January representatives from Marie Stopes told the Justice Committee they were willing to work with RQIA and “be very transparent”.
However last night Mr Wells said: “Any clinic has a right to register – but it does not legitimise what is going on in there.
“As far as I know there have been no terminations in the clinic since it opened. But we don’t know because they won’t tell us. Marie Stopes have refused to tell us, it is shrouded in secrecy.
“The act against abortion in Northern Ireland has saved the lives of 97,000 people.”
The south Down MLA added that the RQIA “cannot get involved in the moral aspects of the clinic”. “The reputation of the clinic goes before it,” he said. “Marie Stopes is more than an abortion clinic, it is a major campaign throughout the world to legalise abortion.”