Health officials in the UK have reminded abortion providers that terminating a foetus based on gender alone is against the law.
The Department of Health in the UK has issued guidance saying that doctors who carry out abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby and pre-sign abortion forms are breaking the law.
It follows recent reports of gender-based abortion occurring in Britain.
But new data analysis conducted on behalf of the department has found “no evidence” of sex selection taking place within England and Wales.
The guidance was created after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) highlighted a lack of advice for medics about the Abortion Act.
The CPS made the comments after a decision last year not to pursue charges against two doctors the Daily Telegraph filmed allegedly agreeing to perform abortions on the basis of gender. Prosecutors insisted it would not have been in the public interest to try to secure convictions.
Commenting on the new guidance, Genevieve Edwards, UK director of policy at Marie Stopes International, said: “It’s important that every doctor has absolute clarity about the letter and spirit of the law.
“Our focus has always been to provide high quality services for women who need them within the legal framework of this country and we will continue to do so.”
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), added: “One in three women will need an abortion because their contraception fails, their life circumstances suddenly change, or a problem is found with a much wanted pregnancy.
“Recently, doctors providing abortion services have felt under intense political scrutiny, and this document should give them the reassurance that neither the law nor regulations have changed to accommodate those who think their work is wrong.
“However, abortion remains a criminal offence and this guidance is about meeting the requirements of the law not those of women or doctors. The law impedes best practice.
“There is no clinical need for two doctors to certify a woman’s reasons for abortion, in addition to obtaining her consent, it simply causes delays. Bpas trusts women to make responsible choices and Bpas doctors comply with the law.”