Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and Labour MP Frank Field have tabled amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill with the aim of eroding abortion rights.
Their main amendment seeks to narrow the range of bodies that can advise women seeking a NHS abortion.
It says: “information, advice and counselling is independent where it is provided by either (i) a private body that does not itself provide for the termination of pregnancies; or (ii) a statutory body.”
They want to stop funding to organisations such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) who offer counselling on reproductive issues, including abortion, and also carry out abortions.
They say that such bodies have a financial interest in increasing the number of abortions so can’t give independent advice. Field compared this situation to the mis-selling of pensions!
But they provide no evidence that this is happening. Replying to these amendments, BPAS says:
“A care pathway has developed that could build in the importance of a pregnancy options discussion without putting barriers in the way of those women who are sure about their abortion decision. This is a crucial consideration for abortion services: abortion is a procedure that has to be carried out within a specific time-frame (before 24 weeks…), and is safer and more acceptable the earlier in gestation that it takes place.”
If BPAS and such bodies cannot give advice, the only other bodies operating in this field are anti-abortion organisations such as LIFE and Care.