New poll reveals overwhelming public support for ban on 'gender-abortion'
Four out of five adults support the prosecution of doctors who authorise ‘gender-abortion’, according to a new opinion poll, commissioned by Christian Concern and published over the weekend.
80% of British adults agreed that 'where it can be proved that an abortion was authorised on grounds of the baby's gender, the doctor authorising that abortion should be prosecuted.'
Ten days ago, it was revealed that 21 year old Aisling Hubert is pursuing a rare private prosecution of two doctors who were exposed by a national newspaper of being willing to offer abortion on grounds of gender. She is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
The poll, carried out by ComRes, also found that more than four in five adults (84%) agree that 'aborting babies because of their gender should explicitly be banned by law'.
That news comes as MPs prepare to debate a ’10 minute rule’ Bill in Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday 4th November) which confirms that ‘gender-abortion’ is illegal.
Prosecution of doctors
Aisling’s legal action follows a refusal by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to press charges. The CPS concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the doctors - but then claimed that to do so would not be in the public interest.
At the time, the failure to prosecute provoked cross-party concern. The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: "This is a concerning development and I have written to the Attorney General to ask for urgent clarification on the grounds for this decision."
Labour's Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, wrote to the Director Public Prosecutions (DPP), saying: "As you will know, the GMC is a regulator and cannot bring criminal proceedings. The provisions of the Abortion Act 1967 are crystal clear. The conduct of abortions for reasons not stated in that Act is a criminal offence, not just a regulatory one. To decide not [to] prosecute because a regulator can hear the matter instead is to disapply the law and undermine the will of Parliament."
Liberal Democrat Peer and former DPP, Lord Macdonald described the decision as "very dubious" and said that it risked "undermining the principle that everyone is equal under the law."
In March 2014, the Prime Minister told the House of Commons: "The Government have made clear that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal. The chief medical officer wrote to all doctors on 22 November last year reminding them of their responsibilities." (1)
However, the British Medical Association suggests that there are circumstances where abortion on the grounds of gender would be permissible under the Act (2).
Meanwhile, BPAS, the UK's largest abortion provider, in guidance still available on its website, says that 'abortion on grounds of fetal sex' is not illegal, claiming that "the law is silent on the matter."(3)
Bill in Parliament this week
The Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill seeks to underline that the law prohibits abortion on the grounds of gender. It also provides an opportunity to examine what support can be offered to those under pressure to abort a baby on the basis of its gender.
The ’Ten Minute Rule’ Bill is being introduced by Fiona Bruce MP and will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday 4th November.
'An appalling practice'
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern which commissioned the poll, responded to the results, saying:
"'Gender-abortion' is an appalling practice and, as this poll shows, the British public is firmly opposed to it. On Tuesday, Parliament must send a clear signal that it is illegal, whilst those doctors who have already offered it must be held to account. They have betrayed the trust placed in them and if the law is to protect, it must be enforced.
"Gender-abortion’ strikes at the heart of our common humanity. This practice should be stopped by the full force of the law. Now."
Related stories from Christian Concern:
Private prosecution of 'gender-selection' abortion doctors
(1) Prime Minister, House of Commons, Official Record, 17 March 2014
(2) British Medical Association, Press Release, 27 May 2014: ‘We recognise that in some cases doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects of having a child of a particular gender are so severe to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman as to provide legal and ethical justification for an abortion’ - available here.
(3) BPAS, Britain’s Abortion Law What it says and Why, 2012 (p8): "Is abortion for reasons of fetal sex illegal under the Abortion Act? No. The law is silent on the matter" - available here.