1. ITV Report

First private abortion clinic opens in Northern Ireland

A pro-life campaigner outside an abortion clinic in London. Photo: REUTERS/Olivia Harris

The first private abortion clinic on the island of Ireland, will open its doors today in Belfast. The Marie Stopes centre is essentially a sexual health clinic.

But what is causing a storm in Belfast, is that it will provide non-surgical terminations.

The laws surrounding abortion are very different in Northern Ireland. The 1967 Abortion Act that legalises terminations in England, Scotland and Wales does not apply here.

In Northern Ireland, abortions are lawful but are strictly controlled with the procedure only carried out to preserve the life of the mother, or if continuing with the pregnancy would have serious or permanent physical or mental effects.

The Marie Stopes clinic says it will operate within the law in Northern Ireland. But pro-life campaigners are up in arms.

They say the service here is unwelcome and are planning large protests outside the city centre clinic.

Last year, more than 1,000 women from Northern Ireland travelled to other parts of the UK for an abortion.

Pro-choice lobby groups say the opening of the clinic in Belfast is a step in the right direction.

Abortion is an issue that both unites and divides communities in Northern Ireland.