New proposals to give women easier access to abortions could eventually lead to some GP practices offering terminations, with plans to allow appropriately qualified nurses to perform the procedure.
A cross-party group of MPs has put forward the proposals, which include allowing abortion-inducing drugs to be taken in the home and reducing the number of doctors needed to approve terminations from two to one.
The plans are being put forward in amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill for debate in the Commons next Monday and are expected to be vigorously opposed by pro-life MPs.
The current requirement for women seeking an abortion to have the approval of two doctors would be scrapped by the new proposals, as would the need for early-stage abortion drugs to be taken on approved premises.
Another major change would be to allow nurses, with the relevant qualifications, to undertake terminations and increasing the number of places where they could be performed.
However, MPs wanting tighter abortion laws are gearing up for the Commons showdown. Tory Nadine Dorries has tabled an amendment to the Bill to prevent terminations after 20 weeks into the pregnancy - a four-week cut on the present limit.