Coffey studied at Somerville College, Oxford, and University College, London where she earned a PhD in Chemistry. She then worked for Mars becoming Finance Director for Mars Drinks UK, and at the BBC in the Property Finance department.
Dr Coffey is a listed member of the House of Commons' All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (as of September 2012).
In October 2010, Thérèse Coffey proposed Early Day Motion 834: Informed Consent for Abortion. The motion stated:
- "That this House notes that in its 14 March 2008 statement the Royal College of Psychiatrists advised that healthcare professionals who assess or refer women who are requesting an abortion should assess for mental disorder and for risk factors that may be associated with its subsequent development; further notes that the Royal College also states that informed consent must be on the basis of adequate and appropriate information on the potential risks to mental health associated with abortion; calls on the Government to give its full backing to mental health assessments for women presenting for abortion as well as the provision of professional counselling where mental health issues are identified; and further calls on the Government to make available information on the possible mental health risks to women of an induced abortion."
The first two points of the motion (where the House "notes" items) refer to the "Position Statement on Women’s Mental Health in Relation to Induced Abortion", issued by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2008. The other two points of the motion (where the House "calls on the Government to...") are not drawn from the Royal College of Psychiatrists' statement.
It should be noted that the statement from Royal College of Psychiatrists said that they were undertaking research in the area. Their call to assess women who were requesting an abortion was made in this context. It summarised the current state of research as follows:
- "The specific issue of whether or not induced abortion has harmful effects on women’s mental health remains to be fully resolved. The current research evidence base is inconclusive – some studies indicate no evidence of harm, whilst other studies identify a range of mental disorders following abortion."
The full text of their statement can be read here: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/member/currentissues/mentalhealthandabortion.aspx
Dr Coffey voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill on 7 September 2011, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes. This amendment would have stopped BPAS and Marie Stopes from providing counselling for women with unwanted pregnancies and allowed ‘independent’ counselling including that provided by faith-based organisations.
In February 2015 Therese Coffey voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. If allowed, mitochondrial donation would be regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) meaning that there would be ongoing assessment of the safety and efficacy of such procedures. An October 2014 briefing report by the HFEA, which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.
Dr Coffey was one of the co-presenters of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill, though she voted only as a Teller in the only Parliamentary vote on the Bill in May 2011. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity". It was criticised for only applying to sex education for girls, not boys, with critics also pointing to evidence that abstinence-only sex education (which does not necessarily lead to abstinence itself) does not protect young people from unwanted pregnancies or STIs (although this was not a bill advocating abstinence-only sex education, it would have meant that the only required elements of sex education would be basic information on reproduction, plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school). The Bill passed its first reading by 67 votes to 61, but had little chance of becoming law and was withdrawn in January 2012 shortly before its second reading.
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