Britain to investigate claims of sex-selective abortions after paper’s video expose

GlobalPost

British officials will investigate claims that doctors are terminating unwanted pregnancies based solely on the sex of the fetus after a physician was filmed agreeing to a sex-selective abortion.

The inquiry follows an investigation by the Daily Telegraph newspaper into sex-selection terminations which included secret footage taken of consultants at British clinics in different parts of the country.

In one film, the doctor — Raj Mohan, of the Calthorpe clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham — saying "it’s not fair…it’s like female infanticide isn’t it?" to a woman wanting to terminate her pregnancy because she was expecting a girl.

The Telegraph investigation found sex-selection abortions becoming increasingly common and mostly carried out in private practices, not the country’s publicly funded healthcare system, the National Health Service.

In another film, Prabha Sivaraman — a consultant — tells a pregnant woman who said she wanted to abort a female fetus: "I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination."

Sivaraman later phones a colleague to book the procedure, explaining that it was for "social reasons" and the woman "doesn’t want questions asked, saying: "This [the termination] will be under private, she doesn’t want to go through NHS. Okay, so — that’s right, because you’re part of our team and she doesn’t want questions asked."

According to the Daily Mail, terminations on grounds of sex of the fetus are illegal under Britain's 1967 Abortion Act, although terminations for non-medical reasons are legal until 24 weeks.

However, abortions are allowed in limited circumstances, according to Agence France-Presse — including when the pregnancy presents a serious mental or physical health risk to the mother.

The women cited "cultural and social reasons" as their main motive for aborting. According to the Guardian, a 2007 study by Oxford University suggested that Indian women in the UK were aborting unborn daughters so they could have more boys.

The Guardian quoted Health Secretary Andrew Lansley as saying that he was "extremely concerned" to hear about the allegations. "Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong," he said.

"I've asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency."

Campaigners, meantime, have seized on the findings of the investigation.

The Guardian quoted Anthony Ozimic of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children as saying sex-selective abortions were an "inevitable consequence" of easy access to terminations.

"This investigation confirms the reality of eugenics in modern British medicine, in which some innocent human beings are deemed too inconvenient to be allowed to live," he said.

However, Darinka Aleksic, campaign co-ordinator for Abortion Rights told the Guardian that "it is no surprise this has surfaced at a time when anti-choice politicians are trying to introduce new abortion counseling requirements."

Just last year, the Council of Europe recommended that EU member states including Britain prevent parents from learning the gender of their baby because of concerns over sex-selection abortions, the Daily Mail reported.

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