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Sex-based abortions legal in UK

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Britain’s top prosecutor has admitted that sex-selection abortions are not illegal under current laws.

In an assessment that has been met with anger in sections of the community, UK Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said that, contrary to conventional understanding, aborting a foetus because of its gender was not technically illegal in Britain.

Mr Starmer revealed his conclusion when explaining why the Crown Prosecution Service was not proceeding with a case against two doctors accused of offering to abort babies because of their gender.

The two doctors were originally considered for prosecution after being secretly filmed offering to abort baby girls.

But Mr Starmer said it appeared that they had not technically breached the law.

“The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions,” he was quoted in the West Australian as saying. “Rather, it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination.”

In coming to his view, Mr Starmer also drew on guidelines issued by the British Medical Association, which he said allowed that “there may be circumstances in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of foetal sex may be lawful”.

In its guidelines, the BMA said it was “normally unethical” to abort a foetus because of its gender, but added that the views of the mother should be considered, and “in some circumstances doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects are so severe as to provide legal and ethical justification for a termination”.

Adrian Rollins