Security review after anti-abortion protester live-streamed inside NI health centre

Staff at a Co Armagh health centre are ‘extremely upset’ after an anti-abortion campaigner live-streamed on social media inside the premises.

Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 1:17 pm

Bernadette Smyth from Precious Life posted a live video on Facebook inside Portadown Health Centre claiming it was carrying out abortions.

The eight and a half minute video, which was shared 75 times, shows Mrs Smyth inside the centre and at the doors of the Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic.

It also showed her outside the clinic as people entered the health centre.

Bernadette Smyth from Precious Life outside Portadown Health Centre.

She claims that women have been referred to Portadown Health Centre for abortions.

The Southern Health Trust, which has responsibiity for the centre, said it was reviewing security.

“Staff and anyone using our services should feel safe to attend our facilities without threat or fear”.

Mrs Smyth described the centre as ‘state of the art’ adding: “Shocking beyond words that we live in a time when a place that has been built to care, to treat people is now being used to kill innocent unborn babies.”

Mrs Smyth claims that a woman from the Portadown area had contacted Informing Choices which referred her to the Portadown Centre. Informing Choices is a pathway to accessing abortion services in NI.

The anti-abortion campaigner said: “We are outside an abortion killing centre, health centre in Portadown.

“We are here to pray and to reach out to abortion vulnerable women who could be using here,” said Mrs Smyth who compared the situation to the Holocaust.

She claimed chemical warfare was being used “to kill innocent unborn babies”.

“People need to rise up and contact their MLAs to say this is not in our name. Our taxes should not be used to murder innocent unborn children.”

However, Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson was outraged at the live streaming and posts by Mrs Smyth.

He said: “I am absolutely appalled to learn that Precious Life has live-streamed a protest from inside Portadown Health Centre - in the middle of a pandemic.

“This is against Covid restrictions, threatens patient confidentiality, and places additional pressure on already overstretched staff.

“It was sickening to hear Bernie Smyth appear to draw comparisons between the Health Centre and the Holocaust - particularly at a time when our health and social care staff are going above and beyond for all of us.

“Crass, offensive on so many levels, and completely wrong.”

A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said: “The Southern Trust offers an Early Medical Abortion service in line with The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020.

“Staff and anyone using our services should feel safe to attend our facilities without threat or fear.

“Our staff have been extremely upset by this incident and we are currently reviewing security.

“In order protect patient and staff privacy, we ask everyone to follow our policy not to film inside Trust premises without consent.

“It is vital at this time, with cases of Covid-19 so widespread in our community that everyone follows Executive guidance to stay at home. We appeal in the interest of everyone’s safety - please do not come to our facilities unless absolutely necessary.”

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Community facilities in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon closed for 4 weeks Read full story here-

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