Editor’s note. This appeared at spuc.org.uk and is reprinted with permission. £22,000 is a little over $33,000.
The law over sex-selective abortion in the UK is in fresh confusion this week after the High Court of London refused to allow a judicial review into the impartiality of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The High Court’s decision is the latest judgement in a saga that dates back to an undercover investigation carried out by the Daily Telegraph in 2012, when journalists filmed doctors clearly offering to perform abortions based on the gender (sex) of the unborn child.
The government has since stated repeatedly that sex-selective abortions – ‘Gendercide’ – remain illegal under the 1967 Abortion Act. However, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), who along with Marie Stopes are the primary abortion providers in the UK, still maintain that abortions based on the gender of the unborn child are legal.
It is in the midst of this controversy over the law that the then DPP Keir Starmer decided to not prosecute the two doctors at the centre of the Telegraph sting.
As the Littlehampton Gazette reports:
In November this year, one of the doctors involved, Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan, was struck off for three months in fitness to practice [had his license suspended] after being recorded offering to arrange an abortion for a woman at a clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham, who said she wanted the procedure because the baby was a girl .
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled: “Despite you apparently believing that the request for a termination of pregnancy was being based on the gender of the foetus, you immediately volunteered to Ms A the alternative reason ‘too young for pregnancy’ and sought her agreement to this reason.”
The GMC dropped its investigation into Prabha Sivaraman, a second doctor, who was recorded telling a woman: “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.”
As it was a newspaper sting, no actual abortions were performed.
In both cases, the DPP decided not to bring criminal prosecutions of the doctors for conspiring “to offer” an abortion after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) declared there was insufficient evidence to provide “a realistic prospect of conviction”
The DPP decided it was more appropriate for the doctors to be dealt with through professional disciplinary proceedings.
Private case blocked
Following the DPP’s decision, 22-year-old Aisling Hubert launched a private prosecution against the two doctors based on the Telegraph video footage which was already in the public domain.
However, the CPS announced in March 2015 that it would be taking over the prosecutions, and then subsequently dropped them. They conceded that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute, but claimed that it would not be in the public interest.
In the High Court judgement handed down this week, which seems to be the final legal avenue, Mr Justice Irwin now insisted that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. The judge argued that there was never going to be an abortion carried out and thus the only evidence concerned “preparatory acts” revealed by the Telegraph sting.
Talking to SPUC, Ms Hubert said: “I feel very disappointed that both applications for judicial review were denied.
“This has sent a wrong signal to the nation that we tolerate sex selection abortion, the most base form of gender discrimination, and that we will not prosecute doctors that break the law.
“The law can only protect if it is enforced; the pre-born child is now more vulnerable than ever.”
97% of abortions legally dubious
The debate over sex-selective abortions is one of multiple cases where there is strong evidence that illegal abortions are being carried out, but no authority seems willing to enforce the law. 97% of abortions are carried out under mental health grounds, yet there is no requirement for the mother to be examined by a psychologist.
Furthermore, the Department of Health’s own guidance clearly states that an unwanted pregnancy is not a sufficient reason to require an abortion under the current law.
However, many abortions – potentially the vast majority – are authorised for that exact reason. SPUC has been campaigning against this abortion miscertification.