Statistics purporting to show selective abortions of girls in the UK are preliminary and should not be "misappropriated" by those in favour of a restriction on terminations, pro-choice groups have warned.
The warning came after a parliamentary question by Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbench peer with anti-abortion views, revealed there may be some evidence of selective abortion of girls in Britain.
Earl Howe said figures showed "gender ratios at birth vary by mothers' country of birth."
"For a very small number of countries of birth there are indications that birth ratios may differ from the UK as a whole and potentially fall outside of the range considered possible without intervention," he said.
Education For Choice, a project within Brook warned there was not yet "solid evidence" of selective abortion.
"Should solid evidence arise which suggests that sex selective abortions are happening in the UK, we would welcome a debate about the issue, but this is simply not the case," a spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK.
"The Department of Health says that ‘UK birth ratios are within normal limits’ and that the evidence which has been collected is ‘preliminary and, therefore, it is still possible that the differing birth ratios are the result of 'natural variation'."
Aborting foetuses because of gender is thought to occur in areas of India and China, where boys are sometimes considered more favourable.
Lord Alton told the Daily Telegraph the preliminary figures could be down to abortion being "routine" in Britain.
"Abortion has become so routine in Britain, with 600 taking place every day, that people have accepted the mantra that it's just a matter of choice, but that's not what the law says," he said.
But a spokesperson for Bpas, Britain's largest abortion provider, told The Huffington Post UK the issue should not be "misappropriated."
"Bpas has no evidence to suggest that women from any community in the UK are routinely requesting abortion on the basis of foetal sex.
"In societies where sex-selective terminations take place, the underlying problem is a value system which places men above women - rather than women's access to abortion services," they said.
"It would be very unfortunate if this issue was misappropriated in order to place barriers in the way of women's ability to get the help and care they need when faced with an unwanted pregnancy."
A Department of Health spokesperson said in a statement: "Abortion based on sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong.
"UK birth ratios are within normal limits. However, we continue to closely monitor ratios and we are in the process of analysing preliminary data.
"If anyone has evidence of sex selection abortions being performed in specific cases, we will refer to the police to investigate."Suggest a correction