UK clinics aborting babies based on gender
Published 23/02/2012 | 05:00
WOMEN are being offered illegal abortions by doctors based on the sex of their unborn baby, an undercover investigation disclosed yesterday.
Doctors at British clinics have been secretly filmed agreeing to terminate foetuses purely because they are either male or female.
Senior medics admitted they were prepared to falsify official paperwork to arrange the abortions even though it is illegal to conduct such "sex selection" procedures.
British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said last night: "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."
The disclosures will add to growing concerns about the regulation of British abortion clinics and the apparent ability of women to secure terminations "on demand".
The 'Daily Telegraph' launched an investigation into sex-selection abortions after concerns were raised that the procedures were becoming increasingly common for cultural and social reasons.
Acting on specific information, undercover reporters accompanied pregnant women to nine clinics in different parts of the country. In three instances doctors were recorded offering to arrange terminations after being told the mother-to-be did not want to go ahead with the pregnancy because of the sex of the unborn child.
One doctor, Prabha Sivaraman, a consultant who works for both private clinics and NHS hospitals in Manchester, was filmed telling a pregnant woman who said she wanted to abort a female foetus, "I don't ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination."
She later telephoned a colleague to book the procedure, explaining that it was for "social reasons" and the woman "doesn't want questions asked".
After taking the woman's contact details, Dr Sivaraman, who works for the Pall Mall Medical Centre in Manchester and also as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at North Manchester General Hospital, asked her if she had considered her options.
"Oh, absolutely. . . I can't have it, this baby, because of the gender, so that's just how it is. . ." replied the woman.
The doctor booked the pregnant woman in for a termination the following week.
Another consultant, Claudine Domoney, who works with 132 Healthwise clinic in Harley Street, London, agreed to arrange for a woman to abort a boy after being told that she and her husband already had a son from his first marriage.
In a consultation room in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, London, the woman, who was approximately 18 weeks pregnant, explained her reasons for the termination to Dr Domoney: "That's the reason (for the abortion). It's a boy, and that's the reason, we don't want to have a second boy."
Dr Domoney explained that as she was going away that afternoon she would be unable to perform the procedure, but she telephoned a colleague to see if he could fit the pregnant woman in.
"He is okay for Tuesday", said Dr Domoney when she returned to the consulting room after speaking to the other doctor.
"So the two of us are. . . very experienced in this area. He (the other doctor) will organise for you to have a room on the private ward. . . He's okay to do it on Tuesday," said Dr Domoney. Last night the consultant said she was "uncomfortable" with the situation, so decided to refer the case to a colleague.
At both clinics offering the sex-selection abortions, the pregnant women were not offered in-depth counselling on their decision to request a termination -- despite the questionable grounds.
MPs have raised concerns over the growing commercialisation of abortion clinics and Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to accept proposals which would mean that women have to receive independent counselling before a procedure could take place. (© Daily Telegraph, London)