After a lovely, if slightly grey, summer break in the UK I am now back to work. First on the agenda is a visit for the entire Culture Committee to the Olympic and Cultural Olympiad sites which will give us British MEPS the chance to show off the cultural delights of London. In addition, I myself will get the opportunity to see how work is progressing towards the Olympics for 2012 – all very exciting.
However, what would otherwise have been a very enjoyable week has been overshadowed by the incredibly worrying news that ministers are set to back Nadine Dorries’ plans to force women seeking a termination to undergo compulsary counselling provided by organisations that do not themselves provide abortion. This will mean that women will experience greater delays in accessing abortions which may lead some to have to undergo more complicated procedures. What is even more concerning however is that this is a policy expressly designed to curtail the number of abortions that happen in the UK and which has been lobbyed for by pro-life religious organisations who will no doubt be on hand to offer counselling services themselves if the policy is implemented. This can leave us in little doubt as to the nature of the counselling that women may now be forced to undergo.
I have outlined my concerns in a letter to the Guardian published today and can only hope that our government sees sense before it is too late and women in the UK lose some of the rights that they have had to fight so hard for over the years – the right to access abortions and the right to free and unbiased medical advice.