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 612.

    Very interesting that the proposals define "independent" as an entity that "does not carry out abortions." I would have more faith in the impartiality of a group that DOES carry them out, as they will at least have first hand knowledge of the problems abortions can create. Someone opposed to abortion cannot give impartial advice, someone who respects the individual's right to decide can.

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    Growler: I like this quote attributed to Stephen Jay Gould: "Velikovsky would rebuild the science of celestial mechanics to save the literal accuracy of ancient legends."

    We see similar tendencies from the fundamentalist, religious right in creationism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    The catholic church,anti abortion,anti contraception,anti divorce,fairly shy about their sexual abuse and starving masses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    "587. You

    "growler "

    Check this out:

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    Sorry that comment went before I was ready to send. Hope it made sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.

    John I'm genuinely sorry for your friends sad loss, however comparisons like this are not really helpful to the debate.
    Most abortions are carried out at they earliest opportunity, in the earliest weeks of conception, 5-8 weeks approx.

    Your friend situation is very different, however, most babies born so prematurely simply cannot survive outside the womb this early. They look

  • rate this

    Comment number 606.

    There are people in good old america who claim to value the sanctity of life so much that they burn down abortion clinics and murder doctors who carry out abortions.So doped up with catholicism they can't think straight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 605.

    #599 TMR-Correct and full marks to David Steel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    Re 573 Harry. Then please explain why friends of ours lost 2 babies at 19 weeks gestation - both perfectly formed. They are babies - not foetus's. Therefore it is murder

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    There is a certain amount of truth that the abortion rate in this country should be lower, however this is no reason to withdraw the procedure or make the process even more difficult than it already is for those in dire need.
    In some cases 'what went wrong' needs addressing. Does contraception really fail as frequently as some suggest or do many young people fail to use it in the first place?

  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    "malongo the decaffinated
    Ideology replaced spirituality until you get the narrow minded views today that never came from Christ."

    It was when Constantine legalised Christianity and made it Rome's state religion and defined its orthodoxy at the Council of Nicaea, introducing some spiritual concepts from Rome's pagan gods (eg the Trinity, Sunday as the day of worship).

  • rate this

    Comment number 601.

    591. malongo the decaffinated

    Dunno why you defend the violent, bloody history of religion.

    And that whole "Jesus never taught that" argument is rubbish because less than 2% of your Bibble has anything to do with this Jesus fellow.

    You do know that right?

    That's just the nice stuff they tell you in church, they never mention slavery, rape, incest, murder, genocide or the space aliens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    594 Chad Chad please don't be so bitter. I didn't realise every abortion was as a result of rape. Thanks again for your input.

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.

    "frank grimes
    Hurray the loony left utopian world view continues: sex without responsibility no mention of abstinence in the first place nor adoption when accidents happen."

    I think you'll find that abortion is not a subject that seriously divides left and right and right wingers are just as likely to take advantage when they need to. Indeed, before 1967 it was only the rich who could safely.

  • Comment number 598.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 597.

    I do find it odd that some commentators on here purport to be 'Christians' before spouting noxious venom. I thought Christians were supposed to show kindness and understanding towards other human beings - how can you call yourself a Christians if you are so intolerant toward others?

  • rate this

    Comment number 596.

    33 Minutes ago

    re 580.minsa

    They weren't monks at all that was a The Bullingdon Club night out.
    Just youthful high spirits

    >>> Very good - I gave you a +1 for that :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 595.

    " scotw
    By obligation to ensure that they are implemented you mean force the rest of the country to live by your outdated, religious views."

    Some of religious persuasion believe in the idea of "collateral damage" by which the faithful suffer from the vengeance of their God in punishing the unfaithful and sinful. Ignores the obvious than an omnipotent supernatural being could avoid this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 594.

    584. frank grimes
    Tell you what Frank, why don't you head back to the Supermarket - or even maybe a pharmacy where you can get expert advice and ask for the contraception ointment/cream/device/pill that has a 100% success rate and also repells rapists.
    When they look at you like you're an idiot, you'll get your just deserts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    And they have got an aqueduct"

    Aqueducts were a much later innovation than was around at the alleged time of Romulus and Remus, around the 4th C BC. They were first needed when Rome grew to be a big place and they needed a reliable water supply once the Tiber got to be polluted with the waste of its increasing population.


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