07/09/2011 11:17 BST | Updated 07/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Nadine Dorries: MPs Overwhelmingly Reject Abortion Law Amendment

MPs have voted against proposals to change the law governing advice given to women seeking abortion.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries had tabled an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that would have banned organisations that carry out abortions, such as Marie Stopes, from offering counselling.

Dorries has argued that because they receive money for carrying out terminations, the organisations have a vested interest.

Critics of the Mid Bedfordshire MPs amendment warned that it would open up the way for religious groups with an anti-abortion agenda to get involved.

MPs were given a "free vote" on the amendment on Wednesday. They voted against change by 118 to 368 - a majority of 250 votes.

But despite the defeat Dorries claimed victory. She told the BBC that a "massive spotlight" had been shone on the abortion "industry".

"It has been a most tremendous success. We've lost the battle but we've won the war," she said.

"The government have opened up a consultation, they are going to take the spirit of my amendments and introduce new secondary legislation."

She added: "The abortion industry has functioned for 47 years without any study or examination of its practices."

During the debate on the bill, health minister Anne Milton had told MPs that the government intended to launch a consultation on abortion counselling.

Dorries had pressed David Cameron on the issue during prime minister's questions earlier in the day, accusing the Tory leader of bowing to Liberal Democrat demands. She even urged him to show Nick Clegg "who's the boss".

But the Commons descended into laughter after Cameron replied: "I know the honourable lady is extremely frustrated".

The outspoken MP had strained her relationship with Downing Street even further in recent days after she branded the prime minister "gutless" for refusing to support her amendment.

Dorries also told the Commons that Clegg had forced Cameron to change his mind on her amendment after coming under pressure from campaigning former Lib Dem MP Evan Harris.

"Basically the Liberal Democrats, in fact a former MP who lost his seat in this place, is blackmailing our prime minister," she said.

Cameron did not vote on the amendment himself as he had a meeting with the president of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy.

But while health ministers said they would vote against the change three cabinet ministers did vote with Dorries.

Defence secretary Liam Fox, work and pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith and Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson are all said to have voted in favour of the amendment.

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said vote sent a "strong message that the work of Marie Stopes, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, and others is valued."

While the majority of Labour and Lib Dem MPs who voted opposed the amendment, the vote was not split entirely down party lines.

Labour MPs Keith Vaz, Stephen Pound and Gavin Shuker voted with Dorries. As did Lib Dems Greg Mullholland, Alan Beith and Gordon Birtwistle.