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British Parliament Handily Defeats Proposal to Change Abortion Counseling

by | Sep 8, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Nadine Dorries

The British Parliament overwhelmingly defeated a proposal today that would have prevented abortion providers such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) from counseling women. Tory MP Nadine Dorries’ proposal, which failed 368 to 118, would disallow organizations which have “any financial interest in providing for the termination of pregnancies.”

Instead “Under the proposed changes, abortion clinics would [have been] told to offer free access to independent counselling run on separate premises by a group which does not carry out abortions,” according to the Daily Mail. In other words to organizations that have no financial stake in a woman having an abortion.

Some major pro-life organizations were and are deeply skeptical of Dorries, who describes herself as “pro-choice,” consistently says she does not wish to limit access to abortion, and who insists she is not looking to return to ‘back street abortions.”

But Dorries also told the Daily Mail, “Abortion has become a factory-efficient process that denies women the right to independent, professional counseling.” She explained that “Many women who are given the opportunity to talk through their situation in a calm environment cease to panic and begin to consider other options. It is every woman’s right to be given the choice of access to professional help at the time of a crisis pregnancy.”

There are more than 180,000 abortions carried out every year. As is the case with Planned Parenthood in the United States, abortion providers in Great Britain make an enormous sum of money. In 2010 Stopes and the BPAS performed 100,000 abortions to the tune of some £60million, according to the Daily Mail, principally paid by the National Health Servoce.

The politics of the debate are exhausting. Basically, Dorries said during debate that  Prime Minister David Cameron had initially encouraged her, even coming up with the word “independent” to describe abortion counselors. However he had allowed himself to be “blackmailed” by his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, Dorries charged.

On the other side, opponents played on the “fear” that “independent” organizations would include religious groups, who would attempt to persuade the woman not to have an abortion. In secular England, that is a crucial disadvantage.

Whether it was all for show or a sincere gesture, Anne Milton, the health minister, said the government would try to implement the spirit of Dorries’ amendment

Milton told MPs: “The government is … supportive of the spirit of these amendments and we intend to bring forward proposals for regulations accordingly, but after consultation,” according to the Guardian. “Primary legislation is not only unnecessary but would deprive parliament of the opportunity to consider the detail of how this service would develop and evolve.”

Dorries told the BBC’s Norman Smith, “We lost the battle but we have won the war.”

For its part, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) issued a statement which began:

“The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said the defeat of Nadine Dorries’ amendments in Parliament was a relief. SPUC had expressed serious reservations about the amendments, especially in light of Mrs. Dorries’ previous attacks on pro-life counselling organisations, services which have done so much over the past 40 years to help women.” 

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Categories: Abortion