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Abortions on grounds of gender are legal in Britain, says director of public prosecutions

By on Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions (PA)

Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions (PA)

Abortions on grounds of gender are legal in Britain, the country’s top prosecutor clarified in a letter to the Government.

Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions, said in a letter to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, that the 1967 Abortion Act “does not… expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions.”

In the letter he explained the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had declined to lay charges against two doctors who had agreed to arrange abortions of female foetuses because of their gender.

He said the Act prohibited “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 a termination.”

“The only basis for a prosecution would be that the doctors failed to carry out a ‘sufficiently robust assessment’ of the risks to their patient’s health,” he added.

In September, Grieve had asked Starmer to clarify the decision of the CPS not to prosecute the doctors amid an outcry from politicians and Church leaders who were concerned that the law had been broken.

In a September 10 statement, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and chairman of the bishops’ Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, said the “existing law should be enforced”. In a further statement released on Monday, the bishops’ conference defended its intervention, saying that people were “right to be outraged that some parents are seeking to use abortion as a means of gender selection.” Such abortions, the statement said, were the “worst form of discrimination.”

“Abortion is always an injustice toward a child who is unwanted, whether unwanted because of her gender or for some other cause,” the statement said.

“The answer to ‘unwanted children’ is to help parents want their children – which almost all parents will do quite naturally by the time the child is born,” it added. “If parents are genuinely unable to care for their own child, that child should be passed to others’ care.”

Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a British pro-life lobby group, said that the decision of the prosecution service “actually encourages doctors to offer an abortion to any woman who says she wants one”.

  • MarkWilliam

    Then it is time to change the Act.

  • Julian Lord

    Such evil that these men do …

  • true catholic

    What do the pro abortion/pro choice lobby and feminist campaigners of 1967 now make of this?

    Did they envisage that the law would be so flexible as to allow the judiciary in the UK to stand back in 2013 and pass a blind eye on gender specific terminations?

    Does it actually dawn on them that the vast majority of these terminations will involve females because of certain cultural outlooks where girls are seen as a liability and drain on family resources?

    You couldn’t make it up

    Pro choice feminist claptrap led to gender bias and selection in abortion practice.
    What an epitaph to the Abortion Act.

    I hope our Catholic leaders will pick this up and shoot down any attempt to devalue the female half of the human family. I write as a bloke, husband and father.

  • firstparepidemos

    How incredibly and utterly…grrr

  • NatOns

    And Catholics (or others) drawn into the provision of such NHS abortions (willy nilly) – as nurses, technicians, etc – have no right to absent themselves from such provision; they must seek a different post – or just jolly well get on with what they’ve been paid to do.

    Not so simple a dilemma to resolve for many, desperate to work to feed their families, send money home, and live a decent life .. let alone one in the state of grace they know to be their Christian call (or their humanitarian preference).

    This is the unpleasant truth now being faced even by the Mother of Mercy and her staff, dedicated to the provision of medical care for women .. facing all their multifarious and conflicting demands.

  • la Catholic state

    Cold-blooded savages.

  • Gary Yates

    But our Holy Father Pope Francis tells us not to be obsessed about it: God Help Us.
    Gary Yates

  • anarchicprune

    Reading this article is truly spine-chilling. Desperate. Evil.
    Enda Kenny has not learned the lessons from across the Irish Sea when he brought in Ireland’s abortion law. He expelled dissenters from the Fine Gael party for voting against him on this issue.
    Hospitals in Ireland have now been effectively shoved in a position they never thought they would ever be put in their wildest nightmares.
    Nice world we live in… NOT!

  • guestguy

    Ah… not be obsessed, true. But we do have an obligation to try and put an end to something so evil. You think the holocaust was terrible, right? And if you do, you’d also think we should never forget its evils so that way it can’t (we hope) happen again.
    Well, far more have been killed worldwide now through abortion than the holocaust. Certainly, we have other things to focus on too, but preventing the killing of an innocent person who has not been baptized is a TOP priority.

  • Cestius

    I cannot believe the sophistry behind this response – sex selective abortion runs a coach and horses through the spirit if not the letter of the abortion act. I feel the real motive behind the CPS decision was to defend the woman’s “right” to terminate a baby for whatever reason she chooses and avoid setting a precedent where the abortion might be restricted. After the Michael Le Vell trial which clearly should have never been brought to court in the first place because of lack of evidence, I think serious questions need to be asked about the leadership of the CPS.

  • Romanus

    In this day and age, abortions are at whim. Abortion is a feminist political statement… punkt… or, if you prefer: period!

  • Hennergogs

    We can hope and pray that this will act as a catalyst and bring some positive changes.

  • SimonS

    The Catholic Herald article does not give a particularly good account of what was said. It is correct that the act does not expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions, but it does not permit this as grounds for an abortion either.

    Even if the act is far too loosely defined, it still is worded to work from the presumption that abortion is illegal unless grounds are given.

    In this case, as can be seen in the CPS report (clipping pages of commentary and evidence):

    There is also the additional complication of E’s reference to a previous pregnancy involving a girl with an alleged “chromosomal abnormality” which was lost at 22 weeks. E’s reference to this previous pregnancy introduced a gender specific health issue of potential relevance to Dr S’s assessment of E’s reasons for wanting a termination. And it is clear that Dr S asked a number of questions about the previous pregnancy.

    Against that background, it would not be possible for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dr S was lying when she said that she did not believe E had had the test she claimed to have had in France and that she authorised an abortion on gender-specific grounds alone.

    The CPS believes (according to that document) that authorising an abortion on gender preference grounds alone is illegal. In this case the evidence did not exist to bring a prosecution that this had been done. The evidential hurdles for criminal prosecution are intentionally high – see the Casey Anthony case in the US – and just because they were not met does not mean that the behaviour was legal.

  • MT

    if Keir Starmer is going back to the 1967 Act fronted by David Steel and devised by such as Roy jenkins, this bill was quickly substituted for the time-tabled bill on fox-hunting and passed by around 16 votes to 14 in the resulting half-empty House of Comons.

    Its “Key Clause” was that THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE BILL WHICH WOULD OVER-RIDE THE 1922 INFANT LIFE PRESERVATION ACT which was left as the definitive law on the crime of abortion.

    The 1967 Act was in effect, a “no change” bill – “merely accomodating what good doctors have been doing for years” we were told.

    What did sneakily change was the political interpretation of ‘”viable” as stated in the 1922 Act. When words no longer retain their meaning what guarantees have we?.

    Although in Scotland abortion was always legal up to and including birth on the word of two doctors, the Hyppocratic Oath and the ethics of our doctors largely protected us from the political use of medicine.

    In 1967 a doctor in Scotland was struck off for aborting the child of a student so that she could finish her studies. This was condemned as a ‘trivial’ reason,

    However in 1968 the 1967 Act was applied lock, stock and barrel to Scotland.

    Which was most peculiar because Scotland never had the 1922 Act.

  • whytheworldisending

    Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions, said in a letter to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, that the 1967 Abortion Act “does not… expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions.”

    What nonsense. It doesn’t expressly prohibit the torture of an unborn child. That doesn’t make it legal.

  • whytheworldisending

    Insofar as that is true, it demonstrates that “feminism” in its current corrupted or mutated form is not viable and is on the road to oblivion. The same is true of all pro-death materialistic ideologies. Insofar as they devalue and try to destroy those who would have been their very own children, they are self-annihilating – doomed to political, cultural and ideological extinction.

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