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Congressman visits new Belfast pro-life centre - The Irish News
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Northern Ireland news

Congressman visits new Belfast pro-life centre

Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life with US Congressman Chris Smith at Stanton health care Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

A PRO-LIFE US congressman has made a flying visit to Belfast to support the opening of a new pregnancy care clinic.

Republican Chris Smith, who is a member of the US House of Representatives and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the new Stanton Healthcare facility at Great Victoria Street.

The facility will offer practical assistance to women facing unexpected pregnancies. Its long-term plan is to have 'in-house' ultrasound services and an expanded team of counsellors and healthcare professionals.

The centre, which is due to open today, is on the same city centre street as the Marie Stopes abortion clinic, which has been the scene of bitter protesters since it opened its doors three years ago.

In December, anti-abortion campaigner, Bernadette Smyth, Director of Precious Life, was sentenced to 100 hours' community service and given a five-year order restraining her from harassing Dawn Purvis, who was then director of the Marie Stopes clinic. However, Ms Smyth later won an appeal against the conviction.

Congressman Smith said women using the facility would be "cared for no matter what their circumstances”.

"We have a number of clinics in the states and the value of what Bernadette can offer, you can’t put a price tag on it," he said.

Mr Smith, who also met with a number of SDLP and DUP politicians during a visit to Stormont, said he had been involved in the pro-life movement for 43 years.

"Women who have been helped, they come back, they volunteer, they radiate love and that is an enormous game changer," he said.

"It’s a refuge, women can find tangible help and very loving individuals to help with their difficulty."

Mr Smith, who is the co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus, is also the author of a number of international human rights laws, including landmark legislation to combat human trafficking.

He has also led the effort in the US in support of the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland policing reform.

Welcoming him yesterday to the new centre Precious Life director Bernadette Smyth said: "For 36 years Chris Smith has fought hard to reform humanitarian crisis situations in his own country, in Africa and Europe and made his name for his stalwart approach on pro-life issues.

"Stanton is a completely new revolution in pregnancy health care. The new centre will be offering woman facing unexpected pregnancies life-affirming options and quality healthcare."

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