Abortion rules to be tightened in biggest shake-up for a generation
The Department of Health is to announce plans for a new system of independent counselling for women before they finally commit to terminating a pregnancy. The move is designed to give women more “breathing space”.
Pro-life campaigners suggest the change could result in up to 60,000 fewer abortions each year in Britain. Last year, 202,400 were carried out.
The plan would introduce a mandatory obligation on abortion clinics to offer women access to independent counselling, to be run on separate premises by a group which does not itself carry out abortions.
The vote would be the first on the laws around abortion since the Coalition took power. A previous attempt to change the law — to reduce the time limit for abortions from 24 to 20 weeks — was defeated in a free vote in 2008.
Last year, Marie Stopes and Bpas carried out about 100,000 terminations and were paid about £60 million to do so, mostly through the NHS.