UK Department of Health claims ‘no evidence’ of sex-selective abortion in Britain

The announcement follows an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph that exposed doctors willing to abort children based on their sex.
Wed May 22, 2013 - 6:22 pm EST

LONDON, May 22, 2013 ( - Following an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph that exposed doctors willing to abort children based on their sex, the UK's Department of Health has concluded that sex-selective abortion does not take place in Britain.

While the Department’s investigation did find that immigrant mothers from China, the Philippines and Australia gave birth to fewer female babies than is considered "normal," the DoH said there was no "statistically significant" difference in the gender ratios between these groups and the general population. 

The average natural ratio at birth is 106 boys to 100 girls. The research team noted that ratios above 108 boys per 100 girls and under 103 boys per 100 girls are "unlikely to occur naturally." 


However, the study found that immigrants from the Philippines had an average 111 boys born for every 100 girls, while Chinese and Australian mothers gave birth to 109 boys for every 100 girls. 

"Whilst there is a wide variation in ratios, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that this is not the result of cultural differences, genetic differences and random variation," the study said, according to a Telegraph report

"The statistical technique used to calculate whether groups are different from the natural range generally requires groups to be large to identify unexpected ratios. As populations for many of these groups are small, this database is unlikely to be able to ascertain cases of prenatal gender selection." 

The sting carried out by the Telegraph last year caused an uproar when doctors at clinics in different parts of the country were recorded agreeing to offer abortions after being told the only reason for the abortion request was that the mother didn't want a child of the sex she was carrying. 

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, told the Telegraph at the time, “I’m extremely concerned to hear about these allegations. Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong. I’ve asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency.” 

In the wake of the allegations, a cross-party group of MPs has launched a parliamentary drive to persuade the government to record the gender of aborted children. 

Conservative backbencher Fiona Bruce introduced a private bill for that purpose, and is also chairing a parliamentary inquiry into abortion on grounds of disability. 

"It is a tragedy that in some countries the words ‘it’s a girl’ are not always a source of joy but of danger; the illegal abortion of baby girls and the resultant imbalance in the number of young men and women in certain parts of these countries is surely something which no one in this country can condone," said Mrs Bruce. 

"After all the endeavours on the part of successive governments to outlaw and end discrimination, the fact that a baby could be aborted just because she is a girl (or, indeed, a boy) remains the most basic form of discrimination, and concerns about it cross communities, cultures and countries. 

"The most dangerous place for girl should not be in her mother’s womb," Mrs Bruce said, "hence the call for the Department of Health to take action." 

Lord Alton of Liverpool, a cross-bench peer and prominent Roman Catholic pro-life campaigner, endorsed the call to action, telling the House, "What needs to be done is not more speculative inquiries but a proper assessment after abortions have occurred." 

"Where it's known what the gender is, that should be carefully registered every time an abortion takes place," Lord Alton said. "We do know the Telegraph investigations found evidence of gender abortions in the UK. But if you don't collect the evidence you'll never know the scale of it."

  abortion, sex-selective abortion, uk

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