Ban on ‘gender terminations’ rejected

BANNING abortions on the grounds of gender would drive more women to have “back street operations”, doctors have warned.

BANNING abortions on the grounds of gender would drive more women to have “back street operations”, doctors have warned.

The British Medical Association’s conference yesterday heard some medics call for women to be banned from terminating their pregnancies solely because they were having a baby girl.

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The 1967 Abortion Act bans women from having an abortion on the grounds of gender unless it is for a gender-related health issue.

However, the BMA also heard many women give other reasons for aborting unborn baby girls.

Doctors had mixed views on the issue with a number of them saying outlawing the practice was the only way to show opposition to gender selection.

But the majority of doctors believed imposing such a ban would lead to more women having illegal “back street” abortions and refused to back a motion to make it illegal.

Dr Paddy Glackin, a London-based GP, said: “This is not about restricting abortions or a woman’s right to choose, but there is evidence that female infanticide is happening.”

Dr Rupert Mallard told the conference it was not up to doctors to judge why a woman wanted an abortion and said passing this ban could lead to more restrictions in the future.

He said: “Women have abortions for various reasons and it is not up to us to moralise.

“Some people value a baby girl less than a boy for whatever reason, but rather than introducing this ban we should be re-educating these people to change their values.

“This would drive many women to have illegal and unsafe abortions and would hit the poorest women hardest.”

Doctors also told how women should have access to free and independent counselling on the NHS before deciding to have an abortion.