Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2014 / 00:02 am
The British Parliament's move to ban sex-selective abortion is a move to defend women's rights – including the right to be born – say supporters of the legislation.
"Sex-selective abortion is violent discrimination against females," Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, told CNA Nov. 5.
"The message of sex-selection abortion is that girls do not deserve to live," she stressed. It is impossible to support women's rights without supporting the right of females to be born."
On Nov. 4, members of the House of Commons of the British Parliament voted 181-1 to clearly declare sex-selective abortions illegal. Though the bill is not yet an act, and may not receive enough parliamentary time before upcoming elections in the United Kingdom, supporters of the legislation hope it will send a message on the unacceptability of sex-selective abortion under current law.
The bill was introduced surrounding confusion over existing laws surrounding sex-selective abortion following former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer's 2013 decision to not bring charges against two doctors caught agreeing to the abortion of baby girls solely on the basis of their sex during an undercover investigation.
Scotland Yard investigated the incident, passing it on to the Crown Prosecution Service, who said that though enough evidence existed to prosecute the case, it was not in the "public interest" to bring the charges against the doctors.
Later, Sir Keir added to the confusion, saying that existing laws do "not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions," and arguing that doctors have "wide discretion" in assessing the continuation of a pregnancy.
Prime Minister David Cameron and other ministers have continued to assert that abortions based on the grounds of an unborn child's sex are illegal. However, the British Medical Association has said that there could be situations where it "would be lawful" to abort a pregnancy because of the sex of a child.
The motion was brought forth by Fiona Bruce, a minister in the British Parliament, calling for a "clarification is needed" on the law in an Oct. 29 blog post explaining her position.
She said that the bill is needed not "simply to ensure that a clear message goes out about the morality of the practice, but also to ensure that Government has an opportunity to work out a way to offer help to women who are under pressure to have sex-selective abortions."
"Whatever you think about abortion, most agree that the sex of the baby does not justify a termination," she urged.
Bruce has spoken publicly about the abuse faced by many women facing sex-selective abortions.
Littlejohn corroborated this aspect of the motion, noting that many women seeking the abortion of girls "are being forced to do so against their will because of strong, cultural son preference."
"It is a woman's right to give birth to her daughter," she said.