Sex selection abortions now 'widespread' in UK
Published 25/02/2012 | 05:00
A former medical director of Britain's largest abortion provider said it was "well known" that women were terminating pregnancies because of the gender of the child and that he had been asked to arrange the procedure for this reason.
Dr Vincent Argent, who previously worked for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and is now a GP and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, said he had "no doubt" that women were terminating pregnancies because of the sex of the baby and that he believed the practice was "fairly widespread".
This week 'The Daily Telegraph' disclosed that women were being offered illegal abortions by doctors on the basis of the gender of the foetus.
Dr Argent said there were "an awful lot of covert abortions for sex selection going on" where women would ask for a termination without telling the doctor the real reason.
However, he said there were also "ones where the patient actually says that it is the reason she wants the termination of the pregnancy". He confirmed that he had been asked to arrange abortions for this reason but had told the patients it was unethical and he could not help them.
There is nothing to suggest that the terminations Dr Argent described were arranged at BPAS clinics.
Dr Argent also disclosed that he believed that some colleagues had arranged terminations relating to the sex of the foetus.
"He (a colleague) didn't think it was ethically wrong because he thought that the cultural reason why some communities may prefer to have four male babies is as good a reason as the, if you like, the Anglo-Saxon cultural view, 'Well I'm pregnant, I just don't want it anyway.'?"
Dr Argent said his colleague equated sex-selection terminations with abortions that he considered as being carried out "on demand" at many clinics.
This week, three doctors who offered terminations after being told by a woman that she was unhappy with the gender were exposed.
One doctor at the Calthorpe clinic in Birmingham admitted that the abortion was like "female infanticide".
The Metropolitan Police began an investigation following the disclosures.
However, Dr Argent said the law on sex selection abortions was unclear and suggested that it was not illegal "because it doesn't say that in the Act"
Dr Argent said aborting a baby due to its gender was "more common among some ethnic communities" but that it "happens in all communities".
He said previously that GPs routinely flouted the law by signing abortion consent forms without seeing patients. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)