In Press Release

Stop Gendercide has voiced concerns that proposed abortion law changes would legalise sex-selective abortion in England and Wales.

MPs Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy have tabled amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill, which will change current abortion legislation.

Abortion for sex-selective reasons is currently illegal in England and Wales.

Diana Johnson MP’s amendment (New Clause 1) would disapply existing criminal law relating to the accessing or procurement of abortion care from women acting in relation to their own pregnancy, meaning it would no longer be an offence for a woman to have an abortion for any reason, including for the purposes of sex-selection. 

The explanatory note to New Clause 1 confirms that it would apply at any gestation, meaning a woman could perform her own abortion on sex-selective grounds throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

Stella Creasy MP has tabled a separate amendment (New Clause 40) to the Bill that would not only allow women to undergo, but also doctors to perform, abortions for sex-selective reasons up to 24 weeks gestation. 

Under New Clause 40, the legal grounds for abortion would become redundant and abortion could take place for sex-selective reasons.

There is evidence that women in the UK are coming under pressure to have sex-selective abortions – and that sex-selective abortions are already happening here in the UK. This situation would likely become worse if these amendments were passed and sex-selective abortion was legalised in England and Wales. 

A BBC investigation found non-invasive prenatal tests (NIPT) being widely used to determine a baby’s sex early in pregnancy, leading to significant pressure imposed on some women to undergo sex-selective abortions. This evidence led the Labour Party to urge a ban on NIPT being used to determine the sex of foetuses.

A Nuffield Council on Bioethics report found several websites were privately offering tests to determine the sex of a foetus, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics warned that the increasing prevalence of private NIPT testing may be encouraging sex-selection. They went on to recommend that the Government stop private providers offering NIPT for foetal sex determination. 

A Telegraph investigation found that doctors at UK clinics were agreeing to terminate foetuses purely because they were either male or female. 

A report published by the Department of Health concerning sex-selective abortion outlined personal testimonies from women coerced into a sex-selective abortion by a third party.

There is evidence that sex-selective abortion has been a significant issue in Canada following the decriminalisation of abortion there. An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal outlines that “easy access to abortion and advances in prenatal sex determination have combined to make Canada a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons”.

Sex-selective abortions risk leading to profound social and demographic problems. Estimates suggest there are more than 140 million missing women and girls across the globe, in most part resulting from sex-selective abortion and postnatal sex-selection infanticide.

Spokesperson for the Stop Gendercide campaign, Devi Shah, said: “It’s a heartbreaking reality that many women here in the UK come under pressure to have a termination from their partners and family members simply because they are expecting a girl.”

“If sex-selective abortion is made legal, it will make it much more difficult for women to refuse pressure from their families to seek a sex-selective abortion.”

“The legalisation of sex-selective abortion, combined with the private availability of early NIPT tests for gender, would likely lead to a significant increase in sex-selective abortions taking place here in the UK.”


Further details on the proposed law changes and our concerns are included in our briefing here.

For further information, please contact hello@stopgendercide.org or visit our website at www.stopgendercide.org

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