09/10/2013 13:36 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Tory MP, Sir Edward Leigh, Says Most Dangerous Position In Britain Today Is To Be A Female Foetus


The most dangerous position in Britain today is to be a female foetus, a Tory MP claimed today amid a row on alleged gender selection abortion.

Sir Edward Leigh hit out in a Commons debate on prosecutions under the Abortion Act 1967.

The discussion in Westminster Hall came after it emerged the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had decided not to pursue charges against two doctors the Daily Telegraph filmed agreeing to perform abortions on the basis of gender.


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The move has prompted concerns that the law on abortions is being flouted.

Mr Leigh said between 2003 and 2007, only 37 people were prosecuted for illegal abortions.

"It's virtually impossible in this country to be prosecuted for carrying out an illegal abortion," he said.

"But the real issue for this Parliament and this debate is whether Parliament makes the laws or whether the CPS makes the laws.

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"This Parliament, clearly, when it framed the Abortion Act, whatever ones views on that, never envisaged a situation where we would have gender selection in this country.

"It is in my view outrageous the most dangerous place to be in Britain today is to be, frankly, a female foetus.

"That is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated in a free society."

But women are legally free to end a pregnancy should they not like the sex of their unborn child, an abortion charity argued.

Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said that a doctor terminating a child for reasons of gender would do so on the same legal standing as a doctor doing likewise for a victim of rape.

Furedi wrote: "Sex selection, like rape, may not be a ground for abortion, but there is no legal requirement to deny a woman an abortion if she has a sex preference, providing that the legal grounds are still met.

ann furedi

Ann Furedi said being pro-choice means exactly that - even on matters of gender

But Mr Leigh branded the actions of the CPS as "quite extraordinary".

Responding to the debate, Britain’s top law officer Dominic Grieve said it was vital prosecutors were independent and had the freedom to act as needed.


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The attorney general told MPs the decision in these cases on whether an abortion was legal was essentially a medical test - one doctors are required by law to carry out on a case by case basis "according to proper medical standards of care, skill and judgment".

The Attorney General said: "There were no detailed professional rules or step by step guidelines telling doctors how to take these decisions. It was matter left to general professional standards and ethics.

"The CPS concluded in the recent cases before them that it would be contrary to the public interest to proceed."

SEE ALSO: Pro-Abortion charity says women free to terminate based on gender

Conservative MP David Burrowes added his concerns, highlighting a CQC investigation in July last year which found failings.

He said: "The 14 NHS hospitals across England which failed the inspections all involved photocopying of doctor's signatures and other breaches.

"Such malpractice I do not believe would be tolerated - not by the patient and not by others - for prescribing, let's say, antibiotics or some common painkillers.

"But there is a blind eye being turned when it comes to abortion."