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Tuesday, 17 August, 1999, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Sex advice centre seeks help
An anti-abortion campaign has been mounted by Precious Life
An anti-abortion campaign has been mounted by Precious Life
A group promoting sexual health among young people has denied that it provides an abortion referral service following a campaign which closed down a pregnancy advice centre in Northern Ireland.

Staff and users at the Brook Advisory Centre in Belfast appealed for help from Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam when she visited their offices on Monday.

They claim to have been subjected to a campaign of harassment similar to that which caused the recent closure of the Ulster Pregnancy Advisory Association.

A group calling itself Precious Life has mounted a high profile advertising campaign since its establishment in Northern Ireland two years ago.

Its director described the closure of the Ulster Pregnancy Advisory Association as a "victory" for unborn babies.

Mary Crawford - denies providing abortion referral advice
Mary Crawford - denies providing abortion referral advice
Brook manager Mary Crawford said there had been a sustained period of threats and initmidation against the centre for the past 18 months.

"We have been portrayed as an abortion referral service, which we are not and never have been," she said.

"We provide counselling on positive sexual health for young people, just like any family planning clinic or GP.

The centre received over 5,000 visits from people seeking advice on sexual health and handled over 6,000 queries during 1998.

'Bullying tactics are unacceptable'

"Despite being told this, Precious Life continue to picket Brook, presumably because they see us as a soft target," she said.

Seamus McAleavey, the director of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), described the campaign being mounted by Precious Life as "bullying tactics" which he said were completely unacceptable.

"Precious Life are making a mockery of any informed debate on abortion by terrorising those most in need of help.

"Where is the concern for the lives of the young girls and women who need these services?"

See also:

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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