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Mensch tables abortion amendment

Mensch tables abortion amendment
Tory MP Louise Mensch is tabling a second amendment relating to abortion counselling to the Health and Social Care Bill, PoliticsHome can reveal.

The amendment is intended to be a more palatable proposal on the advice given to pregnant women than that put forward by her Tory colleague Nadine Dorries and Labour's Frank Field.

It proposes that women should be offered counselling by independent organisations who are neither abortion providers nor faith groups, although there would be the opportunity for a patient to choose to be counselled by either group if they wished.

Ms Mensch told PoliticsHome: "I had a lot of concerns about the original amendment, but I was also uneasy with the status quo, so I thought: I'm an MP and I can table my own amendment. I really hope that the Government support it."

Ms Dorries and Mr Field's proposal, which would strip charities such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service of their right to advise women, has been rejected by both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary. The Speaker will now decide whether to call it for debate when the Bill reaches report stage in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

But in a hint of possible compromise, No.10 sources said that Mr Cameron agreed more counselling providers were needed.

A senior Downing Street source said: "The Prime Minister does have sympathy with Nadine. He does believe that pregnant women should be able to get more advice and counselling, we agree on that. But where we differ is that we don't believe that Marie Stopes and BPAS should be excluded from offering that advice and counselling."

The source stressed that there had been "no U-turn" in Department of Health policy because it had never been policy to vote for the amendment.

Ms Dorries told PoliticsHome that her fight to give pregnant women access to more independent counsellors was not over. "There is a long time between now and Tuesday. A week is a long time in politics. A lot of polls and other information may be published before then."

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