Abortion row: Storm after Alliance Party councillor removes pro-life helpline adverts

An Alliance councillor has provoked a heated debate after posting photographs of himself pulling down adverts for a pro-life counselling organisation in Lurgan.

Alliance Councillor Peter Lavery removing an advertising sticker for pro-life counselling organisation, Stanton Health, in Lurgan.
Alliance Councillor Peter Lavery removing an advertising sticker for pro-life counselling organisation, Stanton Health, in Lurgan.

Councillor Peter Lavery posted the photographs this week, prompting a heated debate on his Facebook page. The advertising stickers belonged to Belfast based pro-life counselling charity, Stanton Health.

Mr Lavery said: “Deeply concerned to see these stickers appear across Lurgan.”

He said that in his view, Stanton Healthcare is not merely a counselling service for pregnant women but “an anti-choice clinic”. He went on to challenge the accuracy of claims about abortion, cancer and fertility which he claimed had been made by the organisation.

Mr Lavery added that regardless of people’s views on abortion, he feels that posting the sticker are “a tactic that targets vulnerable women”.

A spokeswoman for the group said last night that it was seeking legal advice about his comments.

Aontu councillor and GP Dr Anne McCloskey, who is a medical adviser to the charity, rejected Mr Lavery’s comments.

“If we agree that women have intelligence they are entitled to have access to information to evaluate it and fact check it,” she said.

She said that suicide is six times more common after an abortion and even when medically supervised, it still brings significant risks of  haemorrhage, sepsis and uterine rupture.

Pro-Life Campaigner Bernie Smyth is also a close supporter of the charity.

Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart said that people who describe themselves as ‘pro-life’ would see such a counselling service as “a core outworking of their beliefs”.

“However, if there is clear evidence of abusive or unethical conduct by any group in this area, this should be investigated by the relevant authorities,” she added.

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