By Dave Andrusko
I try to keep up with the politics of abortion in Great Britain but I would never claim to understand the nuts and bolts of how a parliamentary system handles a contentious issue most politicians wish would go away.
Having said that, there is a fascinating development afoot, according to John Bingham of The Telegraph:
Abortion on grounds of gender is expected to be declared illegal by Parliament this week, as a cross-party alliance of MPs steps in hoping to end uncertainty over whether doctors can be prosecuted for the practice.
Why is this an issue in a country which, to put it politely, gives the abortion industry a wide, wide berth? This requires a lengthy backdrop, so please bear with me.
As NRL News Today has reported on numerous occasions, an undercover investigation by The Telegraph found abortionists ready and willing to abort a child because the baby was a girl. When this became public knowledge, there was a great deal of “this obviously must be illegal” under the 1967 Abortion Act.
Not so fast said the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the largest abortion provider. Bpas has “repeatedly insisted that gender abortion is not illegal under the 1967 Abortion Act and that the law is ‘silent’ on the subject,” Bingham reported. In other words, Bpas called the critics’ bluff.
In addition, the influential “British Medical Association says that there could be circumstances in which terminating a pregnancy because of the gender of the foetus ‘would be lawful.’” But there is more reason clarification is needed.
As we reported last year, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, chose not to bring charges against two abortionists who were “caught on camera agreeing to arrange abortions of baby girls purely because of their sex,” Bingham wrote. But why?
Even though the case was investigated by Scotland Yard, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was not in the “public interest” to bring charges, even though there was enough evidence.
The controversy picked up in intensity. As Bingham explained, Sir Keir Starmer later issued a detailed explanation pointing out that the law “does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions.” He said doctors have “wide discretion” in assessing whether continuing the pregnancy could threaten the physical or mental health of the mother or her existing children.
Which brings us to this week.
There is a cross-party alliance of female MPs who have proposed a bill that will be in the House of Parliament today. “This isn’t seeking to change the law,” said Fiona Bruce, the Tory MP, who introduced the bill, “that’s the important thing; we are only seeking to clarify it and also to eradicate any confusion that there might be about this issue.”
So the bill only states “that nothing in the 1967 Abortion Act permits terminations on grounds of gender,” Bingham writes. However, he noted, “It adds that this does not, however, prevent doctors stepping in in the case of severe medical conditions linked to gender.”
Mrs. Bruce expressed confidence to Bingham that there was “huge” support for the clarification, “across party lines and on both sides of the abortion debate.” She added, Bingham reports, that she had received strong support from fellow MPs firmly on the pro-choice side of the debate because they agreed that gender abortion amounted to “the ultimate form of discrimination”. A website set up by campaigners has also attracted a large volume of support.
Mrs. Bruce reaffirmed in her comments to The Telegraph that
[The 1967 Abortion Act] never was intended to be this, it has been pushed way beyond the boundaries and I can say quite confidently, from the support I’ve had on this proposed bill, that my view is shared by a huge number of my colleagues here.
We will keep you updated as the debate unfolds.