By Hilary White

LONDON, December 4, 2007 ( – A BBC investigation has revealed that sex-selective abortions are common among the Indian or “Asian” population of Britain. British Indian women are travelling to India to abort their unwanted girl children in “terrifying” numbers, the BBC said on its Asian Network.

Under British law, a woman wanting an abortion must, at least as a matter of form, give a reason related to her “health”. Under these rules, specifying that an abortion is for sex-selection is technically illegal. Sex-selective abortion is also illegal in India which is suffering a serious demographic imbalance after decades of widespread sex-selection.

The BBC’s programme, “Britain’s Missing Girls”, showed that recent immigrants from India, widely termed “Asians” in the British press, are under as heavy pressure to produce the “blessing” of a boy as their national counterparts back home.

One woman, whose identity was carefully shielded, told the BBC’s Asian Network, that it was a simple matter to go to Delhi to obtain an ultrasound to determine the sex of her child and then abort her. “Me and my husband decided to go to India and try and find out what we were having and unfortunately it was another girl. My husband and I thought the burden would probably be too much. So, we decided to terminate.”

Dr. Sylvie Dubuc, a population expert at Oxford University told the BBC there is a “shortfall” of girls born to British Indian families. Nearly 1,500 fewer baby girls were born in Indian families between 1990 and 2005. A study shows that the proportion of British-Indian boys has grown in relation to the number of girls since Indian families first started arriving in Britain in large numbers in the 1970’s.

The study showed that in the 1970’s 103 boys were born for every 100 girls but between 2000 and 2005, the proportion of boys to girls had increased to 114 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers mean that one in 10 girls conceived by British-Indian women having their third or fourth child, is “missing”. Dr. Dubuc said, “The most probable explanation seems to be sex-selective abortion by a minority of mothers born in India.”

Dr A. Majid Katme, spokesman of the UK’s Islamic Medical Association, wrote in a letter to the editor of the Times that a major issue for Indian women is that of the bride’s dowry. “Many poor parents” he wrote, “are unable to afford to pay the dowry that would be needed at the time of the marriage of their daughters.”

“It is surprising to see the British Indian women are following the same steps here in the UK, where the issue of the dowry is not a big deal!”

He added, “We appeal to all the Indian doctors to stop this inhumane barbaric practice and to oppose this clear sex discrimination.” He also called upon the Indian government to “punish severely” doctors involved and to British-Indian women “to avoid this discriminatory killing of their own flesh and blood for the good of society but also for their own health too.”

Dr. Katme also criticised “feminist organisations…who have been silent on this issue” and called upon them to “make a stand and speak up against the unjust killing of their own sex.”
The revelation coincides with earlier reports that Britain has a thriving underground of illegal abortions, including a black market trade in the abortion drug, RU-486, which is illegal to sell without a prescription in Britain.

The BBC reported at the end of November that Britain was seeing a growing trade in illegal abortion drugs. This black market included Chinese herbal “remedies” for pregnancy and the commercial abortion drug package that is under investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration due to the deaths of several women.

An undercover BBC reporter with Radio 5 Live Report , pretending to be six weeks pregnant, visited several Chinese herbalists in London and for £40 was sold a package of herbs to induce a miscarriage. She was told that if the mixture did not work, she could buy a “special tablet”. After paying £100, the “special tablet” turned out to be RU-486.

A Manchester doctor said that it was becoming common to see women bleeding from herbal abortifacients. Another illegal abortion drug carrier, “Robert”, told the reporter that the pills come “either from Fiji islands or Turkey”.

“The ones I have now are from Turkey, they are sent to Poland and then I have a courier who brings them from Poland to here,” he said.

The BBC Radio 5 Report concluded that illegal abortion by drug smuggling “may be widespread.”