Dorries lashes out at ‘gutless’ Cameron after abortion climbdown

By Ian Dunt

Nadine Dorries has branded her own party leader 'gutless' after the government advised MPs to vote against her abortion amendment next week.

The Conservative backbencher insisted David Cameron agreed to oppose her plans after an intervention by Nick Clegg.

"He is strongly pro-choice, a male feminist, but sensible and doesn’t want to see women abused. I just wish he had the guts to say outright it was Clegg who forced him to U-turn," Ms Dorries said.

The Dorries amendment to the health and social care bill would strip abortion providers of their duty to offer counselling before a termination and hand it instead to what she describes as "independent providers".

Critics say many of those providers would be religious groups using the self-regulation system to market themselves as counsellors.

A warm initial response from the government changed decisively last week when the prime minister came out against the plan and health minister Anne Milton wrote to Tory MPs telling them ministers would vote against the plan.

MPs are supposed to have a free vote on matters of conscience and some Tory MPs deeply resent the government's pressure on the issue.

"I had been to see the PM before I tabled the amendment and explained what it was about," Ms Dorries told the Daily Mail.

"It was he who insisted the word 'independent' was inserted into the amendment and I left the meeting feeling supported and encouraged.
According to Ms Dorries, that was when Mr Clegg intervened.

"I was told by a Cabinet minister that the PM dropped it to save coalition stability," she said.

The DoH will still put plans for independent counselling to consultation but they will not strip abortion providers of their separate duties.