General practitioner Consultant

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Non-directive abortion counselling wins backing

All women considering an abortion should have access to non-directive counselling, the meeting agreed.

However, doctors and medical students set aside a call for women to be able to access counselling that is independent of the abortion provider.

They noted the suggestion but stopped short of adopting it as policy. Yorkshire GP Mark Pickering said he had proposed the statement to increase choices for women considering terminations.

Dr Pickering said: ‘I want to assure you this motion is not a pro-life stitch up … For women who were certain that they wanted an abortion, this motion would not affect them.

'When I see women as a GP one of the most common phrases I hear is “I feel I have no choice” … Every women should simply know that if she wants to she can get counselling.’

Not independent of provider

But doctors and medical students were not convinced enough by the arguments that counselling for women should be independent of the abortion provider.

London consultant psychiatrist Jan Wise said the call was similar to a proposal by Mid Bedfordshire Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.

Ms Dorries tried to amend the Health and Social Care Bill to prevent services providing abortions also providing counselling. The amendment failed to make it into the legislation.

The BMA annual representative meeting also deplored ‘picketing and intimidation’ around abortion services.