British Parliament Votes to Keep Pro-Abortion Counseling

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 7, 2011   |   10:50AM   |   London, England

The British Parliament today voted against taking the abortion counseling provisions away from the abortion businesses that profit from selling women abortions. They overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by MP Nadine Dorries to have the NHS provide women with independent counseling rather than allow abortion businesses like Marie Stopes International to push women into having abortions with biased counseling.

Dorries said there is a conflict of interest by having MSI and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an abortion business, offer official counseling for women because they have a financial stake in selling abortions. But MPs rejected the change by an overwhelming 368-118 vote

During the debate, Dorries insisted she had no interest in banning abortions and described herself as “pro-choice” on abortion, but said she is dismayed by the high abortion rates in England, where repeat abortions are at record highs.

“It must be wrong that the abortion provider, who is paid to the tune of £60 million to carry out terminations, should also provide the counseling if a woman feels strong or brave enough to ask for it,” she said. “If an organization is paid that much for abortions, where is the incentive to reduce them?”

Support for the change broke down after Prime Minister David Cameron, who initially supported the change, urged Tory Party members to vote against it — saying the government would look at making changes on its own without a vote of Parliament. Reacting to the vote, Labour MP Frank Field, who had initially endorsed Dorries’ effort, wound up calling on her to withdraw her amendment to the health bill, saying government ministers already pledged to look into changes.

Health minister Anne Milton told MPs the government did not support the changes. And MP Diane Abbott argued on behalf of Liberal Party members who support abortion and rejected the change because they want abortion businesses to stay at the forefront of providing the controversial counseling.

Dorries also said Cameron was unable to support her amendment because he had been “blackmailed” by his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, who strongly support abortion and didn’t want Troy MPs supporting the Dorries language. She told MPs, Cameron had initially been “very encouraging” about her move but was then placed in an “impossible position” by the Lib Dems.

“I went to see the Prime Minister regarding this amendment and he was very encouraging,” she said, according to the Independent. “In fact it was at the Prime Minister’s insistence that I inserted the word ‘independent’. I attended a meeting at the Department of Health and at that meeting it was decided what the outcome, the process that would be implemented, to make this a reality.”

But she said former Lib Dem MP Evan Harris engaged in a lobbying effort that resulted in Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg putting pressure on Cameron to withdraw support.

“Basically the Liberal Democrats, in fact a former MP who lost his seat in this place, is blackmailing our Prime Minister,” she said. “Our Prime Minister has been put in an impossible position regarding this amendment. Our Health Bill has been held to ransom by a former Liberal Democrat MP.”

The British web site Christian Comment says the change could have helped reduced abortions as Germany instituted a similar change in abortion counseling.

“It was refreshing to see Liam Fox, Defense Secretary, saying last night that he would support any measure that lowered the British abortion rate,” the web site said. “He and others like him would be well advised to look at the German system. Germany has an abortion rate of 8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 per year. By contrast Britain’s rate is more than double this at 17.”

“European countries with laws requiring the offer of counseling or a cooling off period before abortion have abortion rates on average that are a third lower than those, like the UK, which don’t,” the web site continued. “German counseling is designed specifically to protect the unborn life, so the counselor is required to inform the woman that the unborn have a right to life, and to try and convince her to continue with the pregnancy. The counselor cannot however force this choice on the woman. Germany also has a three day cooling off period of reflection after a decision to have an abortion is made before it can be carried out. Furthermore the counseling must by done by someone other than the doctor (or agency) doing the abortion.”

In advance of the vote, Christian Concern, which supports the amendment, encouraged pro-life Britons to contact MPs in favor of it.

Meanwhile, the pro-life group SPUC, which is not endorsing the amendment, reports that another competing amendment is of significant concern.

“Also, in response to the government’s rejection late last week of the Dorries-Field amendment, Louise Mensch, a Conservative party MP, has tabled her own amendment on abortion counseling,” the group noted. “The Mensch amendment raises even more serious concerns than the Dorries-Field amendment.”

Abortion counseling is currently only offered by abortion businesses, which have a financial incentive to ensure they do not talk women out of having an abortion by emphasizing the numerous alternatives available to them or offering any non-abortion pregnancy assistance. However, the proposed legal changes would have abortion businesses following laws similar to those in the United States that require them to mention other options. Such laws have proven to reduce abortions.

“Abortion has become a factory-efficient process that denies women the right to independent, professional counseling,” Dorries told the London Daily Mail. “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.”

The London-based Marie Stopes International abortion business did more than 100,000 abortions in the United Kingdom last year and received £60 million through the government’s NHS health care program to do so. As a result, it has significant financial interest to not see a drastic drop in the number of abortions. Another 80,000 are carried out annually in England by other abortion businesses.

In a new investigation by a newspaper, an undercover probe of the counseling afforded by abortion providers and crisis pregnancy centers reveals the powerful impact of pre-abortion counseling.