EXCL: Louise Mensch’s abortion amendments


5:17 pm - September 2nd 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Conservative MP Louise Mensch has today also tabled abortion-related amendments to the NHS bill.

The amendments may be seen by the Department of Health and the government as a face-saving way to reject Nadine Dorries & Frank Field’s proposals, while pretending the current system of counselling was not working for women.

This morning I revealed that health minister Anne Milton had referred to BPAS as a “reputable organisation”, under-cutting Nadine Dorries’ central argument against it.

Louise Mensch forwarded the amendments she tabled:

Page 6, line 8 [Clause 10], at end insert-

‘(c) after paragraph (f) insert a new paragraph as follows-

‘(g) timely counselling services for women requesting termination of pregnancy, to include

(i) the option of counselling by a neutral organisation, with the NHS considered the preferred provider;

(ii) the additional choice of referral to any British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy [BACP] registered service

To the extent that the clinical commissioning group considers they will choose to use them.’.

Page 6 line 8 [Clause 10], at end insert-

‘(2A) After subsection (1) insert a new subsection as follows—

“(1A) In this section, an organisation is neutral where it is neither faith-based nor ideologically based and is not a private body which itself provides for the termination of pregnancies Timely refers to a timeframe set by the commissioning authority, but which shall not unduly delay a woman’s decision.’

In effect, it would allow organisation such as Marie Stopes and BPAS to continue providing advice, while trying to widen the field to include anyone accredited by the BACP.

But there are likely to be objections to calls for the field to be extended so widely.

Mensch said on Twitter she wanted to find a way to exclude explicitly agenda-driven religious organisations such as LIFE.

She also said in her email:

My hope is to offer independent advice in addition to all currently existing services & abortion rights. And to add language of a timeframe as well in order that there be no delay to a woman’s decision.

I was warned that language on timing made the amendment less likely to be selected for debate but I would rather get it closer to what I want than eviscerate it just to get selected. My disappointment is that the labeling language on faith/ideological groups I intended was rejected as being too specific, but I will bring that up in debate should my amendment be selected.

She also said her amendment pushed for the mandating of an option of NHS independent counselling as well as, not instead of, choice of BPAS & Marie Stopes.

I’m waiting for official reaction from groups such as BPAS, Abortion Rights and Education for Choice.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


But why are the provisions as drafted by Ms Mensch necessary at all?

Clause 9 – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2010-2012/0221/cbill_2010-20120221_en_2.htm#pt1-pb2-l1g9 – sets out very general obligations on local authorities to promote public health. Why wouldn’t abortion counselling potentially fall within the general obligation for “providing information and advice (clause 9(3)(a)), should a local authority consider that the provision of such counselling would be “appropriate for improving the health of the people in its area”?

And I still don’t see what evidence is being adduced that there is a problem needing to be solved in the first place, let alone solved in such a convoluted manner.

A tory woman with some sense. They should have her stuffed.

Bet she does not last long in the new right wing tory party.

3. Robert the crip

Poor old Frankie he’s not sure which side of the coin anymore is he labour ish, or is he Thatcherist, hell of a condition Frankie mate.

Frank Field was never sure what he was.

This may be a valiant effort by Louise – and I admire that – but the approach is fundamentally flawed.

A woman can go to anyone she likes to talk about an unplanned pregnancy. Free speech, free association etc means we can not (and should not want to) stop ideological/faith based advisors peddling their myths & proselytising even though their victims are vulnerable. However we should insist on honesty and transparency of advertising such “services” and it should be unlawful to hide or disguises one’s directional approach or that they will never recommend abortion. That would be a worthwhile amendment instead!

The point is that when someone enters the NHS (or private medical care) it is grossly unethical to send a patient to someone giving poor quality advice (ie not based on evidence-based consensus guidelines – in this case from the RCOG).

So it would NEVER be right for the NHS to sign-post a women seeking a termination (or even wanting advice on pregnancy) to one of these directional groups, even if they were honest in their advertising.

Alas Louise has fallen victim to the BACP-myth. Anyone can join BACP if they pay a fee. There is no exam. It is not quality assurance. So the main point of the amendment is misconceived.

The NHS should refer and signpost patients only to reliable services who use the RCOG guidelines. Anything else is unethical.

There is an amendment down which specifies that (by Julian Huppert MP) which should be supported,

“The point is that when someone enters the NHS (or private medical care) it is grossly unethical to send a patient to someone giving poor quality advice (ie not based on evidence-based consensus guidelines – in this case from the RCOG).”

Tell me if I’ve misunderstood, but isn’t the benefit of this amendment that it ensures women are told in advance of taking up advice just what the “purpose” of those groups giving advice might be?

I forgot to say that there is no reason fro any Dorries-type or Mensch-type amendments here anyway. Before tampering with a healthcare system you need to identify a problem and be confident the new system would not be worse.

No evidence of a problem has been identified here, and no sign of any complaints or legal claims. In contrast there is a real risk of women being poor;ly served by advice services which do not stick to authoritative medical guidelines.

What Evan said. He should be in Parliament.

The proposers of these amendments assume that the women in question act alone, do not visit their GPs or try to learn about their options. It’s really as if all these concerned characters think women are cattle once they have a bun in the oven.

Mensch really should learn to shut up. This was entirely unnecessary, she could have just declared her voting intentions and her reasons for her choice.

Mensch is looking rather too excitable and enthusiastic with this and her previous gaffes. Being an MP is a whizard wheeze, after all. I’d prefer more sober reflection from my representative, but I’m stuck with Nick “Nice but Thick” Herbert.

Re: Evan harris comment BACP, you are not correct on that point. For anyone to join the BACP demands not only a fee but a recognised course and entry process of supervision and a certain no. of clinical hours. However, as with any organisation purporting quality there are people who do not reflect the values and standards the organisation intend.
On your other points absolutely agree!

Evan, a counsellor would never “recommend abortion”. The whole process is designed to enable the person being counselled to make their own decision, having worked through their own thoughts and preconceptions.
I did the training published by CareConfidential and I am beginning to think, from media responses, that their approach may be the least directive and most balanced of all.
No counsellor is without their own worldview. They are trained to suspend it in the interests of their client making a decision they can best live with. And worldviews also change with exposure to the world.
Louise’s amendments sound reasonable to me. The noise about there being ‘no problem to answer’ assumes that women who feel short-changed by their experiences of considering abortion ought to to queueing up to air their views. If the equivalent of 1 in 3 women have had an abortion (http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article7132322.ece), every time we open our mouths on the issue there will most likely be someone in the room who feels vulnerable about it. People on the receiving end do not speak out about it in great number. The fact remains that it must surely be better to separate counselling from organisations paid to provide abortions. This can be done whilst safeguarding against faith groups, if deemed necessary.

10. Just Visiting

Ruth

The fact remains that it must surely be better to separate counselling from organisations paid to provide abortions.

I agree, and haven’t seen a good argument on LC against that.

BPAS seem a less than un-biased provider, when their annual statement to the Charity Commissioner says:

Our main priority in the coming year is to ‘grow’ our business by utilising and expanding our capacity to treat clients and extending our collaboration with the NHS.

They can only ‘grow the business’ by doing more abortions… how can counsellors remain neutral when their pay checks come through an organisation with that aim ?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Exclusive: Louise Mensch's abortion amendments http://t.co/IPUeBee

  2. Michael Bater

    Exclusive: Louise Mensch’s abortion amendments | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sbE1kRt via @libcon

  3. .

    Exclusive: Louise Mensch's abortion amendments http://t.co/IPUeBee

  4. John H

    RT @libcon L. Mensch's abortion amendments http://t.co/YpCvmfI /// Blimey. Pick the bones out of /that/. Hope her books are more readable.

  5. jude

    Exclusive: Louise Mensch's abortion amendments http://t.co/IPUeBee

  6. sunny hundal

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  7. Matt Flaherty

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  8. Chris McCray

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  9. DPWF

    The @LouiseMensch proposed amendment. I think it looks genuinely well thought out & should keep neutrality.
    http://t.co/edlrVzz #abortion

  10. Robert Morgan

    @realdanrivas @mikemcquaid Wording:
    http://t.co/G5bBCsA

  11. MarinaS

    Interesting… MT @sunny_hundal Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/kGtOMlj

  12. Dick Mandrake

    Anne Milton describes BPAS as "a reputable organisation" & Louise Mensch tables amendments: http://t.co/d3VuOxI http://t.co/S8lkBTJ #Dorries

  13. Dan Wilson Craw

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  14. Jean Pierre

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  15. Monteagle

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  16. Jason Lower

    @DrEvanHarris Liberal Conspiracy has the whole text of the amendments: http://t.co/NzcFxPe

  17. Sunelle Buell

    Here are the abortion-related amendments tabled by @LouiseMensch MP to NHS bill http://t.co/QeSZ95t will they get traction?

  18. Matt Flaherty

    Unfortunately @LouiseMensch had to drop her labelling language. I generally agree with @DrEvanHarris's comments here: http://t.co/KV9Wmwi

  19. Feminist News

    Louise Mensch's abortion amendments http://t.co/eufx5DM

  20. Ruth Smith

    The abortion amendments to the NHS bill tabled by @lousiemensch are outlined here http://ow.ly/6kgKU , and commented upon below.

  21. M D

    BREAKING: Louise Mensch finds out that Dorries' name has been Googled more than her's this week. http://j.mp/nKXnt4

  22. M D

    BREAKING: Louise Mensch finds out that Dorries' name has been Googled more than hers this week. http://j.mp/nKXnt4

  23. Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] yesterday afternoon, Mensch’s amendment was proposed as a more acceptable alternative to Dorries & Field MPs […]





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