Less than a week ahead of the ribbon-cutting for Ireland's first-ever abortion clinic, Health Minister Edwin Poots (and let's all take a moment to appreciate that surname) has promised that the Marie Stopes Clinic "will be regulated one way or the other," and is taking legal advice on just how regulated the clinic will be. Speaking to the press Sunday morning, Poots said he was currently trying to determine whether or not the Regulation Quality and Improvement Authority, which already oversees a number of health organizations in Northern Ireland, could take on the role of keeping tabs on the Belfast abortion clinic. Ideally, he explained, the Department of Health, reaching with the long arm of the RQIA, would like to have ultimate oversight.
Vice President and Director of Marie Stopes UK and Europe Tracey McNeill has offered her services to Poots, saying that, as a 30-year healthcare veteran, she would be "delighted" to talk to Poots about how abortions can best be regulated. She also made it quite clear that the clinic will perform abortions within the strict framework provided by Northern Ireland, which, unlike the rest of the UK, is not covered by the abortion act. "I would never, ever," McNeill reassured the public, "put teams of healthcare professionals or staff into a situation where they were doing something unlawful." Marie Stopes has said that it will carry out medical, not surgical, procedures only up to nine weeks gestation in accordance with Northern Ireland's laws. If all goes well with regulations at the Belfast clinic, however, abortion services could soon be available to women from the Republic of Ireland.