British law prohibits abortions prompted by gender preference
It’s not a good day for British healthcare. Last night, the Audit Commission revealed that the NHS is paying GPs an estimated £162m a year to treat 2.5m ‘ghost’ patients: non-existent patients who have moved house, emigrated, or passed away.
Now, the Telegraph has published its own health investigation: an undercover scoop exposing how some UK doctors working in private clinics have agreed to illegal abortions, based on gender.
Clinicians even admitted to undercover reporters that ‘they were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the abortions even though it is illegal to conduct such “sex-selection” procedures’, stated the Telegraph.
Some have questioned whether the investigation pushes a political, even anti-abortionist agenda – the government is planning to “radically reform” abortion counselling services to introduce a requirement for those considering abortion to be advised by an independent counsellor.
However, the undercover reporting provided by the Telegraph does show how some doctors are not adhering to the letter of the law.
Undercover reporters went to nine clinics around the country, accompanying pregnant women to their consultation. When the women explained that they wanted a termination based on the sex of their unborn baby, three doctors offered to arrange it, ‘no questions asked’.
In filming released on the Telegraph’s website, one consultant working for NHS and private hospitals in Manchester told the expectant mother, ‘if you want a termination, you want a termination.’
‘She later telephoned a colleague to book the procedure, explaining that it was for ‘social reasons’ and the woman ‘doesn’t want questions asked’, the investigation revealed.
Responding to the findings, health secretary Andrew Lansley said, ‘I’m extremely concerned to hear about these allegations. Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong. I’ve asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency.’
The sex of a foetus can be determined by ultrasound examination from around 14 weeks after conception. It is then possible to abort foetuses of the unwanted sex. However, UK law states that while abortion can be carried out for medical reasons, gender-based termination is illegal.
In another secretly filmed appointment, at 132 Healthwise clinic in London’s prestigious Harley Street, a woman was told her unborn son could be aborted, because she and her husband already had a boy. The practice is known as ‘family balancing’.
Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of the Midland Fertility Clinic and a former vice-chairwoman of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology’s Ethics Committee, told the BBC that the findings were disturbing:
‘There have been reported cases where women have had a long run of boys or a long run of girls, or this peculiar new notion of ‘family balancing’ where couples decide they just want two children and the want one of each.’
‘A foetus being the wrong gender according to the prospective parents is not grounds for termination of pregnancy under any circumstances.’
For the full investigation, click here.
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