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11 / 01 / 2013 - Marie Stopes International refuse to answer questions from Justice Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Marie Stopes International face grilling by Justice Committe but FAIL to convince they will operate within the law
Precious Life present evidence to Justice Committee Investigation about illegal activities of Marie Stopes International
Today's Belfast Telegraph Newspaper reports how Marie Stopes International refused to answer questions from the Justice Committe of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Despite persistent questioning from members of Stormont's Justice Committee during a tense meeting, the directors of Marie Stopes International repeatedly refused to reveal if they had committed any abortions in Belfast.
Marie Stopes director, Tracey McNeill claimed to reveal this would breach client confidentiality.
However SDLP Committee member, Alban Maginness said it was "crazy to suggest that by giving us a number it would identify any individual."
And DUP MLA Jim wells added "You haven't reassured us and you have refused to give us the numbers. Nothing that has happened today will help public confidence because you have been so elusive."
The Marie Stopes delegation tried to convince the Justice Committee that they were complying with the criminal law in relation to abortion in Northern Ireland.
Ms Mc Neill said Marie Stopes would work with Health Regulators, the RQIA. But Committee Chairman Paul Givan said he was "far from reassured" and raised concerns that it is not the role of the RQIA to monitor illegal abortions.
Ms McNeill coldly told the Committee that Marie Stopes' mission was "children by choice, not by chance."
But Mr Givan hit back: "We protect all children (conceived) either by choice or chance"
During questioning, Marie Stopes' Belfast director, Dawn Purvis admitted they pursposely planned the location of their abortion center opposite Belfast's main Bus and Rail Station so that they could get clients from the Irish Republic.
The Belfast Telegraph report said that the Marie Stopes delegation "must have felt they were sitting on a bed of nettles" and "did themselves no favours by being evasive in their answers to the Committee."
The newspaper also reveled that after over two hours of questioning, realising the battle was lost, Tracey McNeill launched a desperate last-ditch attempt to try to thaw the icy atmosphere.
Feigning emotion, she told the story of a girl from Ireland who travelled to England for abortion.
But Justice Committee chairman Paul Givan responded, "We could all come up with stories that could capture peoples emotions ...I am not going to tell the stories of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies who were killed in the womb."
Members of Precious Life after the Justice Committee Hearing in Stormont