'Infanticide' doctor filmed agreeing to abort girls
Published 24/02/2012 | 05:00
ONE of Britain's oldest abortion clinics is facing a police investigation after staff were caught falsifying paperwork and a doctor admitted that an abortion he was offering was tantamount to "female infanticide".
The Calthorpe Clinic, near Birmingham, 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 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, British Health Secretary, passed a dossier of alleged malpractice at the clinic to detectives yesterday. He also referred concerns over "criminal" practices at two other abortion clinics to the police and General Medical Council.
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.
Yesterday, the head of CQC, which also oversees care homes and hospitals, resigned following a Department of Health report that criticised the quango.
Mr Lansley has now warned doctors in a letter to a British newspaper 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 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 patient to book an appointment for the termination.
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 disclosures are likely to lead to growing pressure for pregnant women considering an abortion to be offered independent counselling. (© Daily Telegraph, London)