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Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will issue guidance to local social services authorities on the provision of an independent counselling service for women who are considering seeking termination of pregnancy.

Following the circulation of draft guidance last year, a circular on the arrangements for the counselling of women seeking abortion is shortly to be issued by my Department to health authorities, social services departments and others concerned. The guidance will not recommend the establishment of a separate independent counselling service, but it will emphasise that any woman who is considering termination of pregnancy should have clear and accurate information and unbiased advice; and also that there should be provision for extended counselling and support where the need arises. The adequacy of counselling arrangements is one factor taken into account in the registration of pregnancy advice bureaux.