BIRKENHEAD MP Frank Field is leading a move to try to overhaul abortion law.

The Department of Health has announced it will change the rules to ensure women are offered counselling "independently" of existing abortion services.

Together with Tory backbench MP Nadine Dorries, Mr Field is seeking to amend the Health and Social Care bill when it is debated in Paliament next week to force such a requirement.

Ms Dorries believes the charity-run abortion services – including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and Marie Stopes – have a financial conflict of interest in advising women seeking terminations.

Mr Field said the aim of their co-sponsored amendment is to ensure the advice and counselling services provided for women when considering abortion are independent from the body that carries out the termination.

Wrting on his blog, Mr Field said: "The abortion charities are reported as seeing this as an attack on their work. It isn’t.

"What has been noticeably missing from these bodies are data which would show the amendment to be unnecessary.

"I hope before we reach the debate next week each of the main abortion charities will publish how many women make use of their counselling services and how many following this service do and do not go on to have an abortion.

"The Government, I understand, will announce in the relevant clause establishing a duty on local authorities to provide public health services, that it should, as part of its purchasing programme, ensure that the advice and counselling provided should be separated from the abortion providers.

"There will be a debate on this clause but I’d be surprised if the speaker would allow any amendment to it.

"I shall be seeking from the Government information on whether it intends merely to ask local authorities when purchasing abortion services to keep counselling separate from the service itself, or whether it will seek power to impel a separation."

He said that if the first option is taken it will be up to local authorities to separate services or keep them as they are.

"If the Government is seeking to compel local authorities to purchase advice and counselling separately from the abortion services, then it will need new legislation, " he said.

"What has surprised me most about the campaign against the amendment is that, I think, it has missed the main point.

"I don’t believe the amendment poses any threat to women wishing to have an abortion."

Critics say the move will add pressure on vulnerable women and that the process will cause unnecessary delays.

Some MPs opposed to the amendment say it could actually make it harder for women to get proper health advice and counselling when they need it most.

If the amendment gets through, their fear is that "independent" counselling could come from faith groups and people ideologically opposed to abortion.