MPs reject changes to abortion advice

MPs have voted overwhelmingly against proposals to stop abortion providers giving counselling to women considering a termination.

Proposals had been put forward by Nadine Dorries out of concern that abortion providers had a vested financial interest in the procedure being carried out.

They had argued that women should receive advice on abortion from independent organisations instead.

The proposals would have meant that abortion providers such as Marie Stopes would no longer be able to offer abortion counselling.

MPs voted by 368 votes to 118 against the amendment to offer women “the option of receiving independent” counselling, despite the support of three cabinet ministers - work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, defence secretary Liam Fox, and Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson.

Health Minister Anne Milton said it was not necessary to put the proposals into primary legislation but added that the Government was “supportive of the spirit” of the amendments.

Mrs Dorries accepted defeat but welcomed the Government’s pledge to consult on abortion advice.

She told the BBC: “We lost the battle but we have won the war.”

Commenting on the outcome of the debate, head of public policy at the Christian Medical Fellowship, Philippa Taylor said:

'While we are disappointed at the level of opposition to the aim of the proposed amendment, the heart of this debate has always been the women facing an unplanned pregnancy," she said.

"There is little disagreement that counselling is essential, so that every woman is able to come to a genuinely informed choice based on accurate, impartial and comprehensive information on all the options open to her.

"We welcome Health Minister Anne Milton's commitment to work within the spirit of the amendment to 'offer a choice of independent counselling'."