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British Government is urged to launch inquiry into ‘scandalously under-policed’ abortion laws

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (PA)

The Government should call an inquiry into the working of Britain’s abortion laws following claims that “sex-selective” abortions of baby girls are legal, the head of a pro-life charity has said.

Professor Jack Scarisbrick, the chairman of Life, accused clinics of using the 1967 Abortion Act to permit abortion on demand, including sex-selective abortions of girls, and said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Department of Health should intervene.

His comments came after Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the largest private abortion provider in Britain, defended sex-selective abortions as both legal and morally justifiable.

Professor Scarisbrick said her remarks showed that abortion services were “scandalously under-policed” and had become a “runaway bus”.

“How else could gender-selection abortion – aborting unborn girls simply because they are female ­– be potentially widely available?” Professor Scarisbrick asked.

“How can 98 per cent of abortions be done on mental health grounds when the experts, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, in a major study commissioned by them and funded by the Department of Health, conclude that abortion can never be better for a woman’s mental health and, on many occasions, can be the worse option?

“Effectively the experts are telling us that the great majority of abortions are not allowed under the Abortion Act and are therefore seriously unlawful. So the mental health clause simply amounts to abortion on demand.”

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry have questioned the decision by the CPS not to prosecute two doctors for reportedly agreeing to abortions on grounds of gender amid an outcry from parliamentarians and the media.

This followed the announcement by Jenny Hopkins, the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, that although there was “enough evidence to justify bringing proceedings” it would not be in the public interest to do so.

In an article for Spiked, the online magazine, Mrs Furedi said there was nothing in the Act to prohibit such abortions, which she said were “rare”.

She challenged politicians critical of the practice “to get real about sex-selection abortion and stop playing politics with it”.

Both the British Medical Association and Neil Addison, a Catholic barrister, believe that the current law allows for sex-selective abortion.