50 MPs call for review of CPS decision on sex selection abortions
50 MPs have written a joint letter to the Attorney General supporting calls for an urgent review of the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to prosecute doctors involved in illegal sex selection abortions.
The group, which includes MPs from both sides of the abortion debate, said that they were “united in concern” over the CPS’s decision which they deemed “unconstitutional” and a “step back in the fight for gender equality”.
The CPS said that even though it found enough evidence against the doctors for “a realistic prospect of conviction,” prosecution would not be in the “public interest,” as the cases could be brought before the General Medical Council (GMC).
But the signatories said that the GMC could not substitute the courts, and suggested that the CPS had usurped the role of Parliament since its decision could lead to the incorrect conclusion that sex selective abortions are not illegal.
“The decision by the CPS could lead to the conclusion that gender-specific abortion is merely a matter of professional misconduct rather than illegal,” the letter said.
“This is clearly unconstitutional as it is for Parliament to legislate to change the law, and it has occurred without recourse to Parliament. Safeguards in the 1967 Abortion Act need to be properly applied and enforced. Doctors are not above the law and the General Medical Council cannot be a substitute for the courts.”
The letter added: “Discrimination on the grounds of sex should not be ignored. The decision of the CPS is a step back in the fight for gender equality.
“Gender-selective abortion has affected the gender balance in many parts of the world and harms women by reinforcing misogynist attitudes.”
Pro-life Conservative MP David Burrowes, one of the signatories, said: “We need to practise what we preach. The CPS’s decision not to prosecute was a dereliction of duty. Once the evidential threshold was passed, it was plainly in the public interest to prosecute.”
The Health Secretary and Attorney General have called for an urgent review of the CPS’s ruling which has attracted strong criticism from politicians across all parties.
Cross-benchpeer Lord Alton accused the CPS of double standardsin refusing to prosecute as it has approved charges against a number of pro-life campaigners, including Christian Legal Centre clients Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Attwood.
Former MP Ann Widdecombe also criticised the outcome in a piece for the Daily Express. She said the decision shows that the CPS “is in the grip of the abortion culture,” in which it is acceptable to prosecute pro-life campaigners who display graphic abortion images, but not those who perform illegal sex selective abortions.