The practice of 'sex-selective' abortions is "unacceptable and illegal" and doctors who carry out such procedures will be prosecuted, the Department of Health warned today.
The warning comes following concerns that a loophole in the law governing abortions in the UK was being exploited by some women and families to have terminations signed off by doctors.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, the law does not explicitly prohibit gender-specific abortions and thus the CPS has historically been reluctant to mount expensive prosecutions of those who carry out the procedure.
However, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that doctors who 'pre-sign' abortions without investigating the background and circumstances of the women in question will be prosecuted, a move that has been backed by Britain's General Medical Council.
Abortion clinics will also be required to meet stricter training criteria about gender-based abortions aside from explicitly recognizing that the practice is illegal as part of their licensing conditions.
Under the 1967 Abortion Act, a pregnancy can be terminated legally if two doctors agree the physical or mental health of the child or the woman is in jeopardy.
The Act makes clear that they must sign to certify that they formed the opinion ‘in good faith’.
However, sex-selective abortions remain widespread particularly among ethnic minority communities.
An investigation by the Independent newspaper earlier this year found that the practice had become so commonplace that it has affected the natural 50:50 balance of boys to girls within some immigrant communities and led to the "disappearance" of between 1400 and 4700 females.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS