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 632.


    As a practicing Christian I believe that as stated in the Bible abortion should be illegal."

    The Bible makes no mention of abortion at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    2 Hours ago I do find it odd that some commentators on here purport to be 'Christians' .
    Make no mistake venum and agreseion are the abortionists with murder in their hearts. Pro lifers love their neighbour and will not condone killing the baby in the womb or the elderly, Pity the mother who has killed her own child - she and the abortionists must live with this deed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    626. prexiousMary - if you go back to this BBC article -

    you'll see that our problem discussing sex is a big issue. When we leave the media to do our sex education for us, because we as parents & teachers leave it too late or are too embrassed to discuss it, we do our soon to be teens no favours.

  • Comment number 629.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    Parliamentary processes are like rolling dice. A double 6 and Parliament makes the right decision, anything else and it makes the wrong decision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    624. prexiousMary - I think you need to read 622. nonnamei comment.
    I have every respect for those who accept the vocation of nursing - I could not do it. I take it then that you would regard any woman making this choice as a murder. Your attitude does not help to address the problems which leads to abortion. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Paulmerhaba - the trouble is people are obsessed with sex and therefore is not thought of in the correct context but a distroted view which leads to misuse and the resulting consequences in sex crimes even on children. How about a bit of chastity, modesty, self respect and sex in its proper context not as a pass time and taken lightly Brits are not reserved in my experience, more the opposite!

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    marie - I would love to see how their education system works. A friend of mine has just returned there & often commented on how uptight we Brits were about sex, including how & when we discussed it with our kids. Our daughters were in the same class & both mothers sharing the same faith.

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    9 Hours ago
    Good Grief! What a lot of nonsense masquerading as comment! I am a nurse I work on a daily basis performing early medical abortions.

    Nothig to be proud of here - Shame on you. Nurses are there to preserve life not take it. You state women know their own minds - so do murders, thieves etc doesn't make them right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    618. marie
    Just read an interesting article in the Independent. Apparently the Dutch talk about sex as an everyday thing, whilst the Brits are more reserved.
    Not a betting man but there is a good chance that if i went through this debate the S word would not be mentioned. Aqueducts, religion, philosophers, yes, sex no.
    Back to behind the bike shed then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    Lets show a bit of tolerance and understanding guys. Even Jesus preached compassion regarding differing beliefs. Anyone remember the parable of the good samaritan? I can't speak for everyone and although I respect protests about religion, to each is own... right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    re 620.toycollector

    I wouldnt be constrained by the topic nobody else seems to be

  • Comment number 620.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    re 594.Chad H
    "the contraception ointment/cream/device/pill that has a 100% success rate and also repells rapists"

    This cream is available in Boots, my wife has some - its sort of an off white colour and smells of cucumbers - works a treat

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    615 That's really good point, Unusualj. We could learn a lot from Holland in particular; it's a far more liberal country than ours yet the young people there have a reputation for behaving more maturely than here.
    I'm glad you are back to inject some common-sense - and much needed sensitivity - into this debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    @531. Harbinger
    You seem very comfortable with being judge, jury and executioner Bill. Perhaps you should erect a wooden stake and ducking stool on that church land.

    Sorry for the delay in responding but I had to go and decant the communion wine at the church and the first bottle was corked.
    I don't know why you keep trying to twist my words. All I said was that laws should be observed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    611.Total Mass Retain
    So he was sort of Ali Bongo to God's David Nixon?

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    603. marie - well said & rightly an editor's pick. We sit & talk about the symptoms including abortion while failing to address the reasons why we have such high numbers of unwanted pregnancies & teenage pregnancies. What is so different in countries like Germany & Holland with lower rates of both?

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    John, sorry for that. I was trying to say that at 19 weeks a baby may look 'fully formed' but isn't really. The lungs and other internal organs are no where near ready for birth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    600. frank grimes Go read my comment again. I didn't say every abortion was caused by rape. I also pointed out that no contraception device, pill, cream or ointment is 100% effective.


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