Skip to content

Bioethicists call for ban on new pre-natal test over 'gender-abortion' concerns

Printer-friendly version

Bioethicists have called for a ban on using a new pre-natal test to determine the sex of a baby, because it may lead to more 'gender-abortions'.

Non-invasive pre-natal testing (NIPT) has already come under fire because of its aim to 'screen out' babies with Down's Syndrome.

Now the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, a government-backed think-tank, is warning that private clinics are offering NIPT to women to determine the sex of their baby.

What is NIPT?

NIPT screens a pregnant mother's blood for tiny fragments of DNA. These fragments are then checked at between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy for abnormalities

It was designed to detect certain conditions in unborn babies, such as Down's, Edward's and Patau's syndrome, and is set to replace the current method of testing, amniocentesis, which is more invasive and carries a small risk of miscarriage.

What's wrong with NIPT?

Serious concerns have been raised that more mothers will choose to abort their child on the basis of the diagnosis.

Currently, 9 in 10 mothers  who are told that their baby will have Down's choose to abort. It is believed that this number will increase when NIPT is offered on the NHS next year.

In Iceland, similar tests have resulted in no more babies with Down's being born in the country.

'Gender-abortion' fears

Now there are fresh concerns that the test will also be used to 'screen out' babies if they are not the parents' preferred sex.

Professor Tom Shakespeare, chair of Nuffield Council on Bioethics' working group on NIPT, said: "We strongly believe there should be a ban on its use to find out the sex of the fetus, as this could lead to sex-selective abortions."

Parents are usually offered the chance to find out the sex of their child at 20 weeks' gestation.

Professor Shakespeare said: "Very few people will decide to have an abortion at that stage of the pregnancy.

"But at 10 weeks an abortion is much easier."

Aisling's bid for 'gender-abortion' justice

The disturbing allegation that 'gender-abortions' are taking place in the UK has been raised in the past.

In 2012, two doctors were filmed by undercover investigators from the Telegraph, separately offering abortions to a pregnant woman simply because she said the baby was a girl.

But the Crown Prosecution Service claimed that it was not in the 'public interest' to prosecute.

Christian Legal Centre client Aisling Hubert then brought private prosecutions against the doctors, but the CPS took over the case and dropped it, leaving her with a huge legal bill to pay.

Watch Aisling's story.

23-year-old Aisling needs help to pay these costs, awarded against her simply for pursuing justice for unborn baby girls.

Help her meet these costs by donating to the Christian Legal Centre. 

Related Links: 
Abortion up-to-birth bill to be heard by Parliament 
Christian student calls for end to NHS abortions 
Ban early pregnancy blood test to curb abortion of baby girls, ethics body demands (Telegraph) 
A world without Down's syndrome? (BBC) 


  • The Challenge of Islam in the UK: Tim Dieppe writes about the challenge of Islam in the UK, asking how the church s… 18 hours 49 min ago
  • Ashley Saunders, from , has reacted to the same-sex marriage result, thanking supporters and explai… 1 day 15 hours ago
  • . campaigns for no-fault divorce. A group of lawyers and peers have backed a campaign to reform… 1 day 22 hours ago
  • Listen to BBC Radio 4's 'Moral Maze: Defining Gender' with Michael Buerk. Witnesses are Dr Heather Brunskell Evans,… 2 days 13 hours ago
  • Policy allowing abortion for Northern Irish minors without parental consent exposed - Shocking revelations show tha… 2 days 18 hours ago

Subscribe to our emails