Health ministers 'oppose abortion advice changes'

Woman and doctor The proposal applies to abortion advice in England and not the rest of the UK

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The government has written to all MPs to tell them health ministers will vote against a proposal to change the advice given to women seeking an abortion.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has suggested abortion advice in England should not be given by organisations that carry out terminations.

The government says it is committed to making sure counselling is independent.

Some Tory MPs say they are angry at what they see as an attempt to put them under pressure during a Commons debate.

Downing Street earlier made it clear Prime Minister David Cameron opposed Ms Dorries' amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill.

However, a spokesperson said that no pressure was being applied to Conservative MPs to vote in a particular way.

The bill is due to be discussed by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday and Wednesday but it is not yet certain that the amendment will even be heard, says BBC political correspondent Ben Geoghegan.

At present, women seeking an abortion need the consent of two doctors, which can be obtained through an NHS clinic or GP surgery, or at a private provider, such as Marie Stopes or the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), affiliated to the NHS.

In both cases, staff have a duty to provide counselling to the women who use them - and under Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' guidelines that advice should be impartial, objective and unbiased.

'Nothing finalised'

Ms Dorries' amendment - which is also supported by Labour backbencher Frank Field - would remove that duty from Marie Stopes and BPAS.

It says the NHS - specifically GPs - should provide "independent information, advice and counselling services for women requesting termination of pregnancy" - and it defines "independent" as an organisation that does not itself provide abortions.

There are no other stipulations about who those independent bodies could be. Pro-choice campaigners say they could be faith-based groups morally opposed to abortion, who will seek to persuade women that going ahead with one would be a sin.

While MPs are traditionally given a "free vote" on abortion, the Department of Health's letter to MPs says all health ministers are against the idea.

The Department of Health says it is looking to consult over the advice available to women seeking terminations and has not finalised any proposals yet.

It says any requirement to offer independent counselling would be in addition to what is already provided by GPs and clinics, not instead of it, and the government does not propose to strip abortion charities of their ability to provide advice.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    2nd hys on the same subject in a couple of days, what was wrong with the first one that it had to be stopped & new one created

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    What with the theological bent taking hold in almost every argument it feels like we're regressing like the USA, rather than moving beyond primitive beliefs. This argument however isn't about religion or the rights & wrongs of abortion, it's about who gives advice. I think that only NHS or your own healthcare provider should advise women, then IF they CHOOSE abortion give more support afterwards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    28 Minutes ago
    Advice on whether to murder or not?

    A joke!

    The joke is with christian Catholic & other faiths promoting & indoctrinating massive procreation to poor people in the world, thus creating massive increased poverty,misery & more uneducated which misery religions rely to feed upon.

    Religions creating horror & starvation & poverty is WORSE, than abortions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    @199. HonestIago
    You're saying that babies who are the product of fertility treatment go up for adoption, and that if fertility treatment was stopped there would be fewer kids than parents looking for adoption?

    No, I am saying that if there was no fertility treatment those couples currently undergoing it would adopt these precious babies who would not now be aborted

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Some of the "Christian" views expressed here make it obvious why "faith" groups should be allowed nowhere near this counselling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    How would you feel if your parents had not given you the choice of life above death?
    Well the simple fact is you wouldn't be here!
    Think on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    @Bill 204.

    The problem with the christian claim of, "Thou shalt not kill." Is that Moses later killed a few thousands people, including woman who were pregnant. The bible specifically states the order was given to thrust their swords into their guts to stop any and all potential babies...

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    How many of those, who wish to change the guidelines on abortion, be willing to put their money where their mouth is and fund a small fraction of the upkeep of the children born to those who might subsequently be refused abortions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    @196. Bill

    We are drifting from the matter under debate, however, God delegates his powers on earth via the apostolic succession and the Holy Father to those people judged to be suitable of carrying them out.
    Sorry if I am unclear on your exact faith, but given the notorious past abuse issues with some members of the clergy, whoever is responsible for judging suitability needs to try harder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Re 196.Bill
    "God delegates his powers on earth via the apostolic succession and the Holy Father to those people judged to be suitable of carrying them out"

    Sorry about this Bill but: A fair few of those who were apparently judged suitable have turned out to be child molesters. If the Holy selection process is that flawed perhaps there are other flaws in the teachings?

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    201. Caverdoone43

    I'd love freedom of choice, freedom of choice to do drugs, freedom of choice to rob, rape and maim......hey - it's my choice right? It's my RIGHT to have the freedom to do whatever i want!

    Oh, and as for not being able to feed the world so we should curtail the population with abortions - you might wanna check facts. there's plenty of money in the world - but only a few have it

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Frankiecrisp 193. The idea that a man should have no say over a moral issue is one that has always annoyed me. We are talking about the life of a third human being, the baby, not the rights of the woman. No one has the right to decide for a woman but they do have the right to an opinion and to voice it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    If people are really pro choice then they should let a mother have independent advice before making that decision. The mother should be made aware that abortion can have a devistating emotional effect on a woman and also that support may be out there should they chose to keep the baby. Surely in any choice the more informed people are the better?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    @ 183
    Actually those “other groups” already have the opportunity to “advise and to give help”. This Bill is all about removing the right of free speech from professionals in groups such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregancy Advisory, in favour of promoting Anti-choice organisations who harass women into not having an abortion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    @181. Richie

    Explain how fertility treatment is a sin exactly??

    God made some people capable of having children and some not. It is not for us mortals to interfere with God's will. To do so is a mortal sin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    I am sure that the abortion agencies who make so much money from providing abortions will not like the truth to be known about this.

    Instead of talking about unwanted pregnancys the world NEEDS to deal with UN-NEEDED pregnancys & unsustainable populations which create far MORE suffering & death & misery in the world than abortions do, as a result of religious indoctrination

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    58 Minutes ago
    @107. Chad H
    "There is a shortage of babies available for adoption"
    Is there?

    There would be if we ended the sin of fertility treatment


    Yes Bill. Maybe we can just give all the unwanted babies to trolls living under bridges, or on websites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I we cared about women & girls, we would support the first pregnancy no matter what (except rape & incest & the extreme cases) & promote voluntary free sterilisation all the time -- even for girls who have not been pregnant even once. Fact is, we are not rethinking the problem in 21st c terms using all we know + applying compassion & intelligence. Most on both sides frozen in untenable rigidity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Post 100
    I have read the article from the link posted, although this lady had medical reasons for her experience many don't. What annoys me is when women who have had this bleat about thier "grief" and "name" thier baby. I am an athiest, have had miscarriages and cannot sympathise with this lady who made her choice. Victims of rape/violence it's totally different and they have little choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Doctor Bob - a friend of mine went to Marie Stopes for advice. They covered *all* the alternatives open to her. She made what she felt was a well-informed decision, with no pressure put on her by the organisation. That's all anyone can ask for. This amendment would change that.


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