BERNADETTE SMYTH of Precious Life is opening the Stanton Healthcare affiliated clinic because she feels women deserve more than what’s being offered at Marie Stopes. She has said in numerous interviews that women are exploited by the abortion industry.
The Stanton Healthcare Clinic is a private not for profit organisation that seeks to convince women to continue with pregnancy. In Northern Ireland, a not for profit company distributes its wealth inside itself, pays lower taxes and can avail of up to 100% discretionary rate relief.
Stanton offers a long list of services from early pregnancy detection to post abortion counselling.
Women who decide to chose the Stanton way can obtain supplies to help them during their pregnancy and post birth. The clinic does not elaborate on what these supplies are, the quality nor the quantity of the items.
Smyth told BBC Radio Ulster that she hoped to be able to provide free pregnancy testing, free scans and support. These are already available through the NHS but Smyth says she wants to provide a better service that isn’t available here.
In an interview in 1999 with the Scottish Herald, Smyth shocked the reporter by making a number of outspoken claims. One of which was passing Jim Dowson’s criminal record off as ‘fisticuffs’. Dowson was a leading member of the British National Party and later founded fascist group Britain First. Finishing her interview, Smyth told journalist Ann Donald “Do you know who runs the American abortion industry? The Mafia and the Jews.”
Smyth has visited America on numerous occasions to speak about the anti choice movement in the UK and Ireland. It was in the US that Smyth met Melissa ‘Brandi’ Swindell and decided to bring her philosophy to Northern Ireland.
Unwed and childless, Swindell launched Stanton Healthcare in Idaho in 2006. Two years before this, she was involved in a campaign that would have allowed Westboro Baptist Church to erect a homophobic monument in Julia Davis Park. She then tried and failed to be elected to Boise City Council in 2005.
Although the Stanton Clinic in Belfast will be Christian led rather than any specific denomination, Swindell belongs to Vineyard Church which also has over one hundred branches throughout the UK and Ireland. Vineyard recently opened a new Church in Coleraine which cost £3m to build.
Stanton Healthcare has a history of trolling Family Planning clinics and opening premises right next door.
Mirroring the Stanton technique, Precious Life have been looking at buildings in Great Victoria Street in Belfast, where the Marie Stopes Clinic has been open since 2012. It was outside this clinic that Smyth was observed harassing the former Director Dawn Purvis. Smyth was cautioned, convicted, sentenced and then successfully appealed the judges decision.
Smyth frequently airs her views on current affairs television programmes and her supporters have been caught on camera chasing women leaving Marie Stopes and asking intrusive questions. This behaviour was caught on camera by journalist Patricia Devlin. Marie Stopes now has a volunteer base that chaperones clients past the protesters.