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Woman abortion - copyright Burger/Phanie/REX
UK News

73 MPs back sex-selective abortions ban

by Desmond Busteed

At the conclusion of the Bill's committee stage, Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, a Christian, put forward the last minute amendment; however it still has some way to go before it has a chance of passing into law.

MPs will first have to select the amendment for debate before the Bill progresses to the Report stage of the parliamentary process, which is due to take place in the coming weeks. A majority of MPs would then have to vote in favour of the amendment before it's signed into law.

Speaking about the amendment, Fiona Bruce MP said: The amendment has two aims. First to oblige the Government to think of ways to support women who are under pressure to abort on grounds of the sex of their baby. Second, to consolidate current law, which is necessary to prevent false information being distributed to women.

"Still today, BPAS, Britain's biggest abortion provider, insists that sex-selective abortion is not illegal. We must battle the prejudices which give rise to the abhorrent practice of sex-selective abortion. It would be wrong to look the other way as women and girls continue to suffer."

In recent years there has been confusion over the law on gender-specific abortions. Following a Daily Telegraph investigation in 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge two doctors who were caught on camera agreeing to arrange abortions of female foetuses.

The then director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said: "The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions."

He added that doctors had "wide discretion" whether to allow a woman to continue with her pregnancy, based on the mental and physical wellbeing of the mother.

At the time, the Department of Health issued updated rules saying the 1967 Abortion Act stated that abortion on the grounds of gender was illegal.

It added that the two doctors who were required to approve abortions must consider women's individual circumstances and be ready to justify decisions. This was in response to concerns about the use of pre-signed forms.

However, the British Medical Association warned the updated rules failed to address the complexities and legalities around gender.

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