Gender-based abortions in some circumstances are lawful in UK

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 01:02

London: Doctors in Britain have been informed that they can carry out sex-selective abortions in certain circumstances and it would be lawful, the country`s top prosecutor on Monday said, justifying a decision not to prosecute two Indian-origin doctors accused of arranging abortions.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer clarified that guidance issued by the British Medical Association advised doctors that "there may be circumstances, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful".

Starmer published a detailed memorandum today explaining a controversial decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute two Indian-origin doctors who allegedly agreed to arrange illegal abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby.

"It is normally unethical to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of foetal sex alone. The pregnant woman`s views about the effect of the sex of the foetus on her situation and on her existing children should nevertheless be carefully considered.

"In some circumstances doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects are so severe as to provide legal and ethical justification for a termination," the guidance advised the doctors.

The clarification comes after a `Daily Telegraph` report last month that Indian-origin doctors - Dr Prabha Sivaraman from Manchester and Dr Raj Mohan from Birmingham - allegedly agreed to abort female feotuses.

However, the UK`s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided it would not be in "the public interest" to prosecute the two doctors, triggering widespread uproar.
Starmer today published the memorandum explaining the controversial decision by the CPS not to prosecute.

His explanatory letter, addressed to Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC, also notes that the General Medical Council (GMC) is still investigating the two doctors.

He explained: "The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination.

"On the facts of these cases, it would not be possible to prove that either doctor authorised an abortion on gender-specific grounds alone. Dr S said she did not believe that the `patient` actually knew the gender of her baby.

"In both cases the `patient` gave mixed reasons for wanting a termination, making reference to a previous female pregnancy which had gone wrong because of an alleged chromosomal abnormality, thus making it impossible to prove that either doctors authorised a termination solely on the grounds of the sex of the baby."?

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 01:02

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