British police launches investigation into doctors who agreed to illegal abortions
Published 24/02/2012 | 15:14
BRITISH police have launched an investigation into doctors who offered to abortion babies because of their gender following an undercover Daily Telegraph investigation.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police have begun gathering material that shows three doctors agreeing to arrange terminations for women who wanted to end their pregnancies after discovering the sex of the child.
Today we revealed how a second doctor agreed to arrange an abortion for a woman wanting to end her pregnancy because her baby was a girl.
He agreed to go ahead with the termination despite comparing it to "female infanticide." Staff were also caught falsifying paperwork.
The Calthorpe Clinic has been exposed for illicitly completing abortion forms amid concerns that doctors are not properly consulting patients before agreeing to terminations.
A doctor at the clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham, was also secretly filmed offering to arrange an abortion for a woman who said she wanted to terminate her pregnancy because the baby was a girl.
“It’s like female infanticide isn’t it?” said Dr Raj Mohan before agreeing to conduct the procedure. So-called “sex-selection” terminations are illegal.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, passed a dossier of alleged malpractice at the clinic to detectives. He also referred concerns over “criminal” practices at two other abortion clinics to the police and General Medical Council.
Police have now visited the offices of The Daily Telegraph to talk to the reporting team behind the investigation.
Earlier this week we exposed how abortion clinics across the country are illegally offering to abort foetuses on the basis of gender. There are growing concerns about such practices taking place in Britain’s abortion clinics.
It is understood that the NHS watchdog that monitors the clinics, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), had already alerted the Health Secretary to concerns over the documentation being used by the Calthorpe Clinic.
The head of CQC, which also oversees care homes and hospitals, resigned following a Department of Health report that criticised the quango.
The Telegraph carried out an investigation into sex-selection abortions after specific concerns were raised that the procedures were becoming increasingly common for cultural and social reasons.
In an article for this newspaper, Mr Lansley warns doctors that they will face the “full force” of the law if they break the 1967 Abortion Act. “Carrying out an abortion on the grounds of gender alone is in my view morally repugnant,” he writes.
“It is also illegal. Whatever an individual’s opinion on abortion … laws in this country are decided by Parliament, not by individual doctors. If some professionals disagree with the law as it stands they should argue their case for change. Simply flouting them in a belief that they know better is unacceptable.”
The Health Secretary added: “Anyone indulging in illegal activity must understand that they are running a great risk. The potential penalty for breaking abortion legislation is imprisonment. Doctors could be struck off. And we will not hesitate to pursue any evidence which comes into our hands.”
Undercover reporters accompanied pregnant women to nine abortion clinics around the country. Three offered to arrange terminations for women who said they wanted to end their pregnancy because they were unhappy with the sex of the baby.
When a woman who was 12 weeks pregnant had an appointment with a doctor at the Calthorpe Clinic, she explained that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy because she had discovered she was having a girl but her and her partner “don’t want a girl”.
“Is that the reason?” asked the doctor, who introduced himself as Dr Raj. “That’s not fair. It’s like female infanticide isn’t it?”
When the pregnant woman asked if he could put down a different reason for the termination, the doctor said: “That’s right, yeah, because it’s not a good reason anytime … I’ll put too young for pregnancy, yeah?”
The patient agreed, at which point Dr Mohan again said: “It’s common in the Third World to have a female infanticide.”
He then moved on to discuss the abortion process before asking the pregnant patient to book an appointment for the termination the following Monday or Tuesday.
A nurse at the same clinic was also made aware that the reason for the abortion was because the patient “did not want a girl” but did not object to the procedure taking place.
The patient was not offered any counselling and there was no discussion of the wisdom of her requesting the sex-selection abortion.
The disclosures are likely to lead to growing pressure for pregnant women considering an abortion to be offered independent counselling.
Mr Lansley says the Government will carry out a consultation on the issue and stresses that women should have the opportunity for detailed discussions with professionals.
“We will not only uphold that law, but it is why — in discussion with all main parties — we are planning to consult on counselling arrangements for women seeking an abortion,” he said.
“All women seeking an abortion should have the opportunity, if they so choose, to discuss at length and in detail with a professional their decision and the impact it may have.”
The Calthorpe Clinic, which declined to comment on the disclosures, is the third abortion provider to be exposed by The Daily Telegraph for offering gender-specific terminations. It is one of the country’s oldest abortion clinics, having been set up in the late 1960s.
Yesterday’s Telegraph disclosed how doctors working at Pall Mall Medical in Manchester and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London were secretly recorded offering similarly illegal abortions, leading to widespread concern.
Dr Tony Falconer, president of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: “Anecdotally, there are social and cultural reasons for preferring one gender over another and we need to know more about why these occur.
“The issues are complex. For instance, women may be coerced or threatened with violence into having an abortion. The priority would be to identify these women and to provide them with support.”
Anthony Ozimic, a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “This investigation confirms the reality of eugenics in modern British medicine, in which some innocent human beings are deemed too inconvenient to be allowed to live.
“Sex-selective abortion is an inevitable consequence of easy access to abortion, a situation to which the pro-abortion lobby has no convincing answer.”
However, Darinka Aleksic, the campaign coordinator of Abortion Rights, said the criminal practice of a minority should not be used to impose tighter restrictions.
“It is absolutely vital that abortion providers adhere stringently to both legal requirements and professional guidelines, so that the public has confidence in the system,” she said.
“But the fact is, abortion is heavily regulated and strictly licensed in this country.”