The Times of London recently reported that “The ugly and militant tactics of American anti-abortionism have arrived in the United Kingdom,” and especially in Northern Island, the only part of the British Isles that is not bound by the 1967 Abortion Act. Anti-abortion activities have already forced the closing of the Ulster Pregnancy Advisory Association (UPAA), a family planning clinic which had been operating in the outskirts of Belfast for over 20 years.
The UPAA was picketed by the Ballymena-based antiabortion group Precious Life, which is planning a September ’99 conference featuring anti-abortion activist speakers from the United States. The group’s head and founder, Roman Catholic housewife Bernadette Smyth, hopes to recruit new members in next month’s conference, and claims that Precious Life already has 5,000 supporters. She describes the conference program as “a crash-course in pro-life activism.”
Members of Precious Life picketed the home of at least one unnamed UPAA employee, distributed leaflets to her neighbors, and told neighborhood children that babies were being murdered in her home. Soon after, UPAA was victimized by arson. “I could not and would not risk having my house burnt to the ground, so I threw in the towel and tired,” the former counselor explained.
UPAA is currently referring calls to the Family Planning Association in Belfast, which is equipped to ward off anti-abortion terrorism. Precious Life has picketed FPA every Wednesday during the past month. FPA Director Audrey Simpson said of the protests “It is relatively quiet today because I have told them that one mention of my name or accusation of murder and I will take them to court.”