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Family law: Tory MP calls for changes to abortion counselling law

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has claimed that organisations which offer counselling before abortion services are bound to offer biased advice to pregnant women, since the organisations make money through abortions.

Last year abortion providers Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service carried out around 100,000 abortions and received around £60 million, largely through the NHS.

Mrs Dorries believes that counselling from abortion providers must be biased since they have a vested interested in carrying out terminations.

But BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi said: "Nothing could be further from the truth. I can say with hands on heart that the last thing that anyone involved in abortion wants is for a woman to be having treatment that they are not sure about. Everybody wants people to walk away feeling that the right thing has been done."

Mrs Dorries plans to change the Health and Social Care Bill so that abortion providers will not be allowed to offer counselling services anymore.
Instead women would be offered free services from independent counsellors.

It is thought that adding this extra step to the process will reduce the number of abortions by 60,000 each year in the UK.

A former nurse, Mrs Dorries claims that it is because of the number of botched operations she has witnessed that she wishes to see changes in the law. She claims she does not oppose abortion and yet she previously supported an attempt to change the law so that the time limit for abortions would be reduced from 24 to 20 weeks. This amendment did not take place after it was defeated in a free vote in 2008.

Mrs Dorries said: "The abortion process is so fast: seven to 14 days. Women who do have doubts or niggles are on the other side before they have a chance to think it through. The majority may feel it's fine but there are a growing number thinking it wasn't what I wanted to do. As it gets faster and faster more women are falling off the edge. This is a women's rights issue."

Royal College of GPs chair Dr Clare Gerada strongly criticises the planned amendments, saying that they will set the system back by years.

She said: "There is no agenda in abortion services, there is no pressure at all to encourage women to have an abortion. They encourage women to make a decision about what they want to do.

"The idea that BPAS or Marie Stopes are colluding to make a profit is wrong. If these independent counsellors include GPs, which I suspect they will, we know what happened before when you had a service that relied on GPs signing the forms. You had delays as some are conscientious objectors. Why fix what's not broken? It's worked well for 25 years.

"I work [as a GP] in Lambeth. I've never heard of abuse in this system. Anything that puts a barrier between a woman to make a choice in timely manner must be a bad thing and will simply reverse the advances of the past 25 years."

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