Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

07 SEP 2011

MPs debate abortion counselling amendments

Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine was in the House of Commons (7 September 2011) as MPs debated controversial amendments to the Healthy & Social Care Bill.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries put forward amendments to the Bill which sought to require GPs to make provision for 'independent information, advice and counselling services for women requesting termination of pregnancy'.

Currently, the vast majority of terminations in Hampshire are carried out by two charities under contract by the NHS; they are the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) in Basingstoke and Marie Stopes who operate out of the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.  Both offer counselling services for couples when referred by their GP.

Ms Dorries' amendment would have the effect of preventing abortion services (such as BPAS and MS) from offering this 'independent' counselling.

Local MP Steve Brine opposed the amendment from the start and voted against it in the House of Commons.

He said; "I would be very apprehensive about putting an 'independent' intermediate step in. The danger is that the advocates have an agenda which is to stop abortions, whether right or wrong for the woman. I am worried that vulnerable anxious teenagers who are at a crisis in their lives will be delayed in seeking a solution by this unnecessary step and get to a point that termination is not feasible or is more distressing.  I know the proponents of this amendment gave assurances that this would not happen but I do not see legally how they can give that protection and the unintended consequences could be very dangerous in my opinion.

"Furthermore, I therefore think that BPAS/Marie Stopes counselling services should be as robust as possible with clear evidence in the notes that all options have been explored before the procedure is carried out."

Steve Brine said he backed a promise secured from Health Ministers that they would look at the current system in great detail, to "test and the air the many complex questions" this issue raises.  He added;  "If the findings of that review – which absolutely MUST start with NO pre-determination whatsoever – and we are clear we have a problem, then I will be the first to back change."

This amendment to the Health & social Care Bill was defeated by 118 votes to 368.

More information ...

You can see the debate in full and see how all MPs voted via the Hansard website here.

Due to a short debate (of just 90 minutes) which featured just over one hour from the proposer of the amendment, many members including Steve Brine did not get called to speak.  You can however, read Steve's speech in full by downloading the PDF here.

If you wish to contact BPAS or Marie Stopes they can be found via; and

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