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Clinics 'offer sex-selection abortions'


Illegal abortions are being offered in some clinics based on the sex of the unborn child, it has been claimed.

Officials from the Department of Health have launched an investigation into the allegations made by the Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper said its reporters had gone with pregnant women to nine clinics around the UK.

In three cases, it claims that doctors were recorded agreeing to illegally grant a termination after the mother said she wanted to end the pregnancy because of the sex of the foetus.

The doctors were also allegedly filmed saying that they would arrange false paperwork for the abortions.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said he was “extremely concerned” about the allegations, adding: “Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong. I’ve asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency.”

Under UK law, abortions are only allowed in certain cases, such as when continuing with the pregnancy would pose a risk to the woman’s life, physical or mental health or if there is a real risk that the child may be born with a serious physical or mental disability.


Readers' comments (12)

  • When abortion was legalised in the UK in 1967 it was thought it would only be for cases where the mother's life was in danger or the baby was known to be extremely disabled, so approximately 2-3,000 a year. Very quickly abortion became available for social reasons, since when approx 200,000 are carried out every year, something in the region of the population of Southampton. Abortion has been carried out in countries like China on the grounds of the sex of the baby, when there has been a limit on the number of children that can be in a family. I didn't think it would be long before the practise was available in the UK, albeit illegally. This is part of the "slippery slope" argument that makes many people resist a call for legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia.

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  • I do hope these doctors have been identified to the GMC and that they have been suspended pending investigation.

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  • I am old enough to remember when women would avail themselves of "back street" abortions which in many cases led to sepsis or worse.

    The original intent of the legislation was to provide a service with strict boundaries. Over time these boundaries have become blurred.

    We now have abortion on demand, some would argue that this is right, however, I would argue that the rise in demand for abortion is the result of women failing to take control of their fertility. Abortion should not be used as an alternative to contraception and under no circumstances as a means of sex selection.

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  • George Kuchanny

    Abortion to select gender? Absolutely abominable. Whatever next?

    Child a bit slow on the uptake or not pretty enough so kill him/her to keep up appearances doubtlessly.

    Not EXACTLY the right hair/eye colour or a bit short? Yep kill the little mite and try for a designer offspring of course.

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  • decide whether or not you fancy your baby or not and eliminate all those with illnesses you cannot provide treatment or support for and the elderly who you consider of no further use to society????????

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  • tinkerbell

    if everyone is 'perfect' then we will no longer need 'compassion' for one another. What a sad society we will become.

    When i went to my GP with a scare that i might be pregnant in my 50's he said to me

    'You will of course have a termination' and i replied 'no' and he asked 'why not?' and i replied 'because of my beliefs', he rolled his eyes to the ceiling and shook his head in disbelief.

    Not expecting him to come out with all this on my first visit and totally unprepared i sat in a crumpled heap and thought 'i hope i never have to see you again'. Bad doctor, bad medicine. I came home and cried wondering who else would be against me if i were.

    What a relief to find i wasn't.

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  • tinkerbell | 25-Feb-2012 11:01 am

    making moral judgements about our patients is not our job or that of our doctors.

    i had the right to a lecture from a nurse when i went for a d&c in my mid thirties about being too old to have a child! when one looks back one realises that is only her personal opinion which was not asked for but coming from a healthcare professional it can be quite destructive and probably even more so if one is not in the profession.

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  • from Anonymous | 25-Feb-2012 11:07 am

    the above has been a valuable lesson to me in paying attention what I say to patients and to others and also in more carefully evaluating any advice or criticisms I am offered.

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  • tinkerbell

    I would never impose my beliefs on a patient unless they asked and even then might decline to offer an opinion. I do not know their individual state of mind or what further angst i might impose on them

    I splutterd out to the GP i saw 'my beliefs' because i was thinking on my feet and felt under threat. He all but had the termination referral ready to go.

    I would have liked time to 'cross that bridge' when i came to it.

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  • from Anonymous | 25-Feb-2012 11:07 am

    very poor practice on the part of the GP, Tinkerbell, which can only serve us to reflect on our own practice. I know you think like me in this (as we previously discussed it elsewhere) but some sadly never learn and seem to think it their job to lecture patients and others, when as you say

    'I do not know their individual state of mind or what further angst i might impose on them.'

    This is something which sometimes seems to be lacking in basic nurse or medical training although perhaps it is assumed it is common sense. This appears to indicate that when offering basic training in these fields nothing at all should be assumed, at least as far as ethics and treating other individuals with respect are concerned! The latter used to be (or should have been) learned at home and at school from a very young age, but perhaps this is unfortunately no longer the case.

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