By Dave Andrusko
The decision by the (British) Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute two abortionists who allegedly offered to perform abortions on women who did not want a baby girl has stirred up a hornet’s nest of outrage.
”Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to [attorney general] Dominic Grieve asking for ‘urgent clarification’ after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided it was not in the public interest to pursue the case,” reported Ian Dunt for Politics.co.uk.
“We are clear that gender selection abortion is against the law and completely unacceptable,” Hunt wrote. “This is a concerning development and I have written to the attorney general to ask for urgent clarification on the grounds for this decision.”
The controversy over sex-selection has been growing ever since a British newspaper, the Telegraph, filmed abortionists agreeing to abort women who said they did not want a baby girl. “One of the doctors did so despite likening the practice to ‘female infanticide’ while the other told a woman her job was not to ‘ask questions,’” according to John Bingham and Claire Newell of the Telegraph.
Following a 19-month inquiry (dubbed Operation Monto) carried out by several police forces and coordinated by the Metropolitan Police Service, the CPS said there was enough evidence to warrant prosecution with a “realistic prospect of conviction” but that the case “did not meet the public interest test.”
The likely result is that the case will be turned over to the General Medical Council, which oversees doctors but has no criminal powers.
Emily Thornberry, a member of the opposition Labor Party, wrote Keir Starmer, The Director of Public Prosecutions:
“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 prosecute because a regulator can hear the matter instead is to disapply the law and undermine the will of Parliament.”
Telegraph commentator Philip Johnson explained the case in greater detail.
“There are two conditions that the CPS needs to take into account before deciding whether to proceed with a case.” The CPC had concluded that the case met the first condition–sufficient evidence. “In other words, there is prime facie case that the law has been broken and there is a realistic chance of a conviction,” Johnson wrote.
With respect to the second condition—public interest—the CPC agreed it met two of the three tests.
“It is the third test – the impact on the victim – on which this issue turns,” Johnson wrote. “The CPS has evidently decided there was no victim in this case because the terminations did not happen. But that is like saying that would-be bank robbers should not be prosecuted because they failed to carry out their plans when they were rumbled or their car crashed.”
Pro-lifers were, of course, infuriated. Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said, “We seem to have a situation where, at the whim of the CPS, procedures that are clearly laid out in the Abortion Act can be completely disregarded by doctors and the NHS.” He added, “That seems to put doctors above the law and raises questions about the CPS upholding the will of Parliament.”
Paul Tully, the general secretary and senior political officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), asked, “Does hostility toward a baby girl, motivated explicitly by her gender, and perhaps also by her age, not merit prosecution in this situation? The fact that the child is in her mother’s womb makes a difference in the eyes of the law, but not for the doctor who must kill her either surgically (by means such as dismemberment), or more commonly now, by use of chemical agents.”
Bingham and Newell also quoted David Burrowes, a Tory Member of Parliament on the all-party parliamentary pro-life group:
“I would be extremely disappointed if [the CPS] were seeking to put themselves in the position of politicians and Parliament by trying to suggest that this is not an offence that should be prosecuted. That is a matter for Parliament and not for prosecutors, I would be very concerned and very interested to look at whether they have overstepped the mark.”