UK Fails to Uphold Sex-Selective Abortion Ban

Nora Sullivan, M.P.A  

The news came of the United Kingdom this past week that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) rules that it would not be in the “public interest” to prosecute two doctors who agreed to arrange illegal sex-selective abortions.  This ruling was made despite the fact that prosecutors admit that there is more than enough evidence to take these doctors to court for violating the law.


In February of last year, the newspaper the Daily Telegraph launched an undercover investigation of abortion UK abortion providers and published the results.  Doctors at British clinics were secretly filmed agreeing to terminate pregnancies based on whether the unborn child was a male or female.  The doctors declared their willingness to falsify paperwork to arrange the procedures even though sex-selective abortion in illegal in the UK.


Dr. Raj Mohan, a physician in Birmingham, was secretly filmed agreeing to arrange an abortion for a woman claiming that she wanted an abortion because the child was a girl.  “It’s like female infanticide isn’t it?” remarked Dr. Mohan before agreeing to carry out the abortion.  Another practitioner, Dr. Prabha Sivaraman, told her patient who has claimed that she wanted to abort her child on the ground the child was a girl, “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.”


Following an inquiry, the CPS acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution with a “sufficient prospect of conviction.”  However, the CPS told the police that a “public interest test” has not been met.  They announced that there was no need to launch an investigation as the General Medical Council (GMC), which oversees the conduct of doctors, would deal the case.  The GMC, however, has no criminal powers and does have the authority to prosecute breaches of the law.


Andrea Williams, Director of the UK’s Christian Legal Centre, stated, “This is contrary to the law. Parliament makes the law and the CPS should enforce it.”  She added, “We believe in the rule of law and that girls should not be terminated because boys are wanted, or that a baby should be terminated because of a cleft palate.”


In January of this year, the British government released the first statistical data backing up concerns that sex-selection abortions are being carried out in the UK.  A health minister said that the in rates of male and female births among mothers of certain nationalities may “fall outside the range considered possible without intervention”.  Sex-selective abortion has long been considered a serious problem throughout India and China, where sons are considered preferable for a long list of cultural as well as economic and social reasons.


Sex-selective abortion is a major problem for a multitude of reasons, both ethical and practical.  As demographer Nicholas Eberstadt most excellently points out, the world is now facing an entirely bleak new form of gender discrimination in the form of sex-selective abortion.  The practice has been become so much a part of some societies (most noticeably in China and India, but it can been seen in many other countries as well as in subpopulations in the US and now the UK) that it has skewed the sex ratio of the entire world, as millions of girls have just disappeared.  In the words of Eberstadt, “In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.”


The CPS has stated that it is not within the public interest to prosecute these doctors.  The CPS is wrong.  It is always within the public’s interest that the rule of law be upheld, if the law is just- as this law is.  Additionally, it is within the public’s interest to have their society protected and not allowed to devolve to into one where girls are allowed to be eliminated based on their sex before they are even born.  Not only is it a disservice to them as individuals but to women everywhere, whose perceived value is fundamentally diminished by such acts.


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