I’ve already done some work on the issues surrounding this issue: see Episode Eighty-Two – On Forty Days Of Treats – Interview . A partial interview with Liz was published in the UK Skeptic Magazine under “Kylie Sturgess and Tessa Kendall on sceptical activism and the abortion debate” (Volume 23, Edition 2 – which you can buy here).
For some context: the original September 2011 amendment to the bill by MPs Nadine Dorries and Frank Field was withdrawn when pressure was placed upon PM David Cameron (link to BBC article about the Health and Social Care bill and here’s another Telegraph article about the eventual decision).
Earlier in the news: two days ago the Guardian reported – Nadine Dorries’s sexual abstinence lessons bill withdrawn – protests by the British Humanists took place – “Ask your MP to oppose Nadine Dorries MP’s abstinence-only bill”.
However, since then, Anne Milton, the health minister, has been working with DoH civil servants behind the scenes on plans to dramatically alter the system.
Draft proposals will set out three options.
The most radical change would see abortion clinics, such as those run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and Marie Stopes International, barred from providing counselling, and under a legal duty to refer women seeking it to an independent service – as had been laid out in Mrs Dorries’ amendment.
An second option is for a system of “voluntary registration”. This would would mean any organisation offering counselling to women with a crisis pregnancy would have to meet minimum standards, and only use appropriately-trained counsellors.
A cross-party group of 10 MPs which has held secret talks over the proposals has become deeply divided about whether organisations running such services should be required to declare any ethical stance – such as holding pro-life beliefs.
…A third option, to retain the current, is also detailed in the DoH policy paper, despite acknowledgement that it would mean a “postcode lottery” remained in the standard of care.
Ministers are braced for fierce debate over the proposals, which are due to form a Department of Health consultation, likely to begin next month.