Bid to have Marie Stopes stripped of abortion licence

A Pro-Life protest outside the Marie Stopes office in Belfast in 2015
A Pro-Life protest outside the Marie Stopes office in Belfast in 2015

Thousands of pro-life campaigners have signed a petition calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to strip Marie Stopes International (MSI) of its abortion licence in the wake of media reports about some of its practices.

The organisers of the petition have said that 16,000 people have backed the call to terminate the licence of the country’s second largest abortion provider – which has an abortion centre based at Great Victoria Street in Belfast.

The petition was launched in March after a report in the Daily Mail claimed MSI has been approving thousands of abortions without meeting women, with some discussions of the reason for the abortion lasting as little as 22 seconds.

The petition also follows concerns identified by the quality regulator – Care Quality Commission – in an inspection report at the end of 2016.

The Daily Mail investigation and CQC inspection report resulted in a joint initiative by two of the country’s most prominent pro-life groups – the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and Life Charity – who launched a petition claiming that the practices at MSI make a mockery of the law.

They delivered the petition to Mr Hunt’s office in Whitehall yesterday.

Antonia Tully, SPUC’S director of campaigns, said: “Mr Hunt has a duty to act to uphold the law and this petition demonstrates the strength of feeling in the court of public opinion.”

When contacted by the News Letter a Marie Stopes spokesperson said they had previously responded to the Daily Mail report which gave a “seriously misleading view of how our services operate”.

They did not wish to make any further comment on the submission of the petition to the health secretary’s office.