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 712.

    Hmmmm it seems some one took a disliking to my post (705)
    So it would be totally ok for a company like Mcdonalds to hire nutritionists to advise people on dietary habits? And you would totally trust these nutritionist to be 100% impartial and unbiased in their advice regardless on who is paying their wages and keeping them in a job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    613 Chad I never said said that contraceptives where 100% affective read my comments. Nor did I suggest that rape victims should be denied abortions. What i am suggesting is the abstinence does work (unless you believe immaculate conception is causing all these unwanted pregnancies) or actually going on the male or female pill or using a condom if you can not abstain would greatly reduce the risk

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    The only section of the populace who are really qualified to pass comment on this topic are women ~ for obvious reasons.

  • Comment number 709.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    This myth that we have one if the highest abortion rates in the world is odd. There is on average 15.6 out of every hundred known pregnacies aborted in England and Wales. This is comparetively low compared to the other 17 countries that have a higher abortion rate. Russia having the highest at a whopping 77.7 out of every hundered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    704. Chad H
    19 Minutes ago

    701 - Wow. Is that a Triple Godwin now?

    Not quite but it is getting perilously close to it.

    I nearly mentioned the war but I think I got away with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    Why is it that the pro-lifers are the same people who support the death penalty, how we make a compromise, those that want to have abortions can and we won't force people who don't want them to have them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    I can sympathise with Nadine Dorries views to a certain extent. It does seem odd that organisations payed to carry out abortions also advise on them. It would be like a junk food retailer hiring nutrtionists to advise people on what to eat or the government hiring oil tycoons on where to start wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    701 - Wow. Is that a Triple Godwin now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    We have one of the highest rates of abortion in the world. As you can guess from my having worked with women undergoing this procedure, I am not 'anti-abortion' at all.
    However, it's a fairly traumatic procedure for a woman to face and it would be better for all concerned if we could do more to prevent unwanted pregnancy in the first place; better contraception, more information etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    694 ticalex I'm a trained nurse who worked for a while in a gynaelogical hospital, at times with women undergoing termination. Believe me there are a high number of abortions, although usually carried out for the soundest of reasons.
    I do not want to see a change in the law on abortion, however I would like to see more done to change attitudes & help prevent unwanted pregnancy in our young people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    Re: Post 694 by ticalex "The [abortion] rate should be higher - the number of extremely low income potential parents and those unsuitable to be parents in the first place needs to be reduced!"

    Don't forget the handicapped - and what about the Jews too? Seriously though, wouldn't it be enough to forcibly sterilise them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    Comment number 694. ticalex
    11 Minutes ago

    the number of extremely low income potential parents and those unsuitable to be parents in the first place needs to be reduced!

    So a what income level shoud parenting be allowed and who decides and on what basis makes someone suitable. What happens if one of these undesirables gets pregnant, force an abortion onto them. Brilliant!

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    I think Bill's been guzzling the communion wine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    I am not subject to the laws of God, whoever she is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    I can't see any system being perfect. If theres room for improvement why not?

  • Comment number 696.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    Comment number 691. growler
    15 Minutes ago

    As this HYS has now become the 'Ask Bill Page' can I repectfully remind you that if you stay up all night typing then you will likely not be in a fit state for Communion tomorrow.

    Nah. I'll be up at sunrise to pray to The Green Man before I chop some more of his trees down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    In reply to "Marie" - What do you mean "...the abortion rate in this country should be lower." I challenge you to back that with real evidence? The rate should be higher - the number of extremely low income potential parents and those unsuitable to be parents in the first place needs to be reduced!

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.



    "It is the duty of all Christians to ensure that the Law is observed and the guilty punished"

    This is your comment earlier in the day - if you believe that God is omnipotent why do you feel the need to punish the guilty?


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