The Defence Minister, Liam Fox, has thrown his weight behind a bid to change the law on counselling for women considering a termination, saying yesterday he would support efforts to reduce the "far too high" number of abortions.
Amid tensions within the Coalition over the amendment, Dr Fox said he would back anything that made people "think twice".
The Tory MP Nadine Dorries is rallying support for an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill which would prevent abortion providers giving advice to pregnant women. The move would stop organisations such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service providing counselling. Ms Dorries says that, because they receive money for carrying out abortions, they have a vested interest. Downing Street has indicated that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, will not support the amendment, which is to be considered by the Commons this week.
He is said to be sympathetic to the need for more advice for women but is concerned about existing providers being shut out.
The Health minister, Anne Milton, has emailed MPs saying she and her colleagues at the Department of Health also intended to vote against the amendment.
Dr Fox, a former GP, said: "I would certainly want to support any amendments that saw the number of abortions fall in the UK.
"I think the level is far too high. I would certainly welcome any restrictions which enable people to think twice and get objective advice." PA
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