NRL News

British Health Secretary to issue guidelines clarifying that sex-selection abortions are illegal

by | May 23, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Controversies over sex-selection abortions and evidence that physicians are avoiding what few requirements for abortions there are continue to roil the waters in England. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is addressing them both, according to The Telegraph.

First the background. There was a tremendous row (which has somewhat tapered off) when it was demonstrated conclusively that some abortionists will kill an unborn baby if the mother does not want a girl. The legal authorities that should have prosecuted chose not to.

The most recent controversy followed information secured through a Freedom of Information request. It revealed that 67 abortionists had illegally signed blank abortion forms for women seeking abortions in England—but went unpunished. In theory two physicians (usually abortionists) are required to sign a form saying that continuing the pregnancy could cause the woman physical or emotional harm.

The Telegraph (the newspaper that did the investigative reporting) reported yesterday that Hunt will “issue new guidance making it clear to doctors that sex-selective abortion is ‘unacceptable and illegal’” and would be breaking the law.

Steven Swinford and Peter Dominiczak added that the guidance will say

“Abortion clinics will also be required to explicitly recognise that gender-based abortions are illegal as part of their licence conditions.”

Pre-signing abortion forms is also expected to be explicitly defined as breaking the law.

The Telegraph’s investigation found abortionists who would practice sex-selection abortions even though one likened the practice to “female infanticide” and the other told a woman her job was not to “ask questions.”

As NRL News Today reported last year, Sir Keir Starmer, the then Director of Public Prosecutions (CPS) ruled that prosecuting the abortionists would not be in the “public interest” and said that the 1967 Abortion Law does not “expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions” [].

Swinford and Dominiczak wrote

MPs have also raised concern that the law does not explicitly state that abortions on the basis of gender are illegal.

The Department of Health believes that the new guidance will make the law clearer for both doctors and prosecutors.

David Burrowes, a Conservative MP, said: “It is a very helpful clarification from the government. As a matter of principle and practise gender selection is thoroughly outlawed by this government as well as pre-signing.

“Any evidence must lead to the full force of the law being applied. For too long professionals and others have been able to use the cover of ambiguity have been able to allow gender selection to take place. They will now feel we have at last got a very clear statement from the government.”

In addition, “A cross-party group of MPs has written to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police [Scotland Yard] demanding a criminal investigation into evidence that dozens of doctors pre-signed abortion forms without knowing anything about the women concerned,” Telegraph Social Affairs Editor John Bingham has reported.