The Guardian reports that protesters outside a Belfast abortion clinic are employing creative new methods to terrorize patients who are on their way inside: playing recordings of crying babies, waving dolls at them, and telling patients that they've "christened" their fetuses. A lot of this is imported from American anti-choice groups. Sorry, Belfast. Really sorry.
Marie Stopes Northern Ireland, a clinic which offers abortions, STI testing, contraceptives and vasectomies, has, not surprisingly, been subjected to protests since the minute it opened in 2012. In September 2014, clinic escorts started wearing body cameras to document the behavior of the anti-abortion protesters.
That behavior, reports the Guardian's Henry McDonald, is getting progressively more aggressive.
The anti-abortion activists tell women leaving the clinic "things like: 'You are now the mother of a dead baby!' or: 'We have named your dead baby Theresa.' I have had plastic foetus dolls pushed right in front of my face as well as those disturbing blood soaked images of what they claim are abortions on giant posters. They have even brought down loudspeakers outside on the street and played recordings of a baby crying. Just before Christmas they brought a manger, but without the baby Jesus in it to symbolise dead babies."
Emma Goldman, a photographer and clinic escort, tells McDonald it sometimes feels "like you are in one of those American states on the frontline of the abortion wars such as Texas."
Bernadette Smyth, one of Northern Ireland's most prominent anti-abortion activists, was convicted in November of harassing Marie Stopes' director Dawn Purvis. She was court-ordered to stay 20 yards away from the clinic, and the court imposed a five-year restraining order to keep her from harassing Purvis or the patients entering the clinic. The Belfast Telegraph reported that she violated the court order just 48 hours later.
Protesters outside Marie Stopes Northern Ireland in November 2012, soon after it opened. Photo via AP