07.09.11 – MPs have today delivered a comprehensive rejection of Nadine Dorries attempts to change the abortion counselling system, voting 368 to 118 against the proposals.
Her amendment to the Health and Social Care bill would have stripped abortion providers of their role in offering impartial advice and counselling to women considering abortion, opening the door for organisations opposed to abortion in principle to be contracted to counsel women on their pregnancy options by the NHS.
Frank Field MP, the original co-sponsor of the amendments, withdrew his support for Nadine Dorries during the debate and urged her to work with Anne Milton and the Department of Health on reviewing current counselling requirements.
Although delighted at the outcome, pro-choice campaigners are voicing concern at Anne Milton’s comments during the debate that the government supports the ‘spirit of the amendments’.
Although the Department of Health had previously signalled its support for the proposals, in the past week Anne Milton has written to MPs advising them to oppose the amendments and stating that the government’s position did not represent “a criticism of existing counselling services”, adding,
“We have no evidence that existing abortion counselling services are causing any harm to women”.
It will be important to monitor the criteria under which the Department of Health carries out its planned consultation on abortion counselling, and to ensure that it contains no pre-emptive assumption that there is a need to change the current system.
During her speech Nadine Dorries again referred to Abortion Rights’ links with trade unions, despite our recent post outlining our funding sources, specifically in response to her questions on this issue.
She also stated she had discussed the matter in a ‘meeting’ with Abortion Rights. We would like to point out that no one from this organisation has met with Nadine Dorries or anyone from her office for at least the last two years.