Gender abortions: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt seeks 'urgent clarification' over lack of prosecutions

CPS said it was not in the 'public interest' to prosecute two doctors accused of arranging illegal abortions, despite them having enough evidence to prosecute

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to the Government's senior law officer for “urgent clarification” on why two doctors accused of arranging abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby will not face prosecution.

Mr Hunt said abortion on the grounds of gender selection was “against the law and completely unacceptable“ and has written to Attorney General Dominic Grieve about the decision.

The request comes after an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph where reporters secretly filmed doctors at British clinics agreeing to terminate foetuses because they were either male or female.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that although there was enough evidence to justify a prosecution it would not be in the public interest, instead it recommended the cases continue be dealt with by the General Medical Council (GMC) which had the power to strike doctors off the register, the CPS said.

The fact that the abortions had not actually taken place influenced the decision not to proceed with a prosecution, according to Jenny Hopkins, the deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London.

She said, “We have been asked to review two separate allegations against two medical professionals in Birmingham and Manchester concerning requests for an abortion made by a pregnant woman acting on behalf of an investigative journalist.

"Both suspects were doctors and providers of pregnancy terminations at the time of the alleged offences. The undercover operation involved the pregnant woman presenting herself as seeking an abortion on the grounds that she did not want to give birth to a girl. We are satisfied there was no intention to proceed.

“The Abortion Act 1967 allows for an abortion in a limited range of circumstances but not purely on the basis of not wanting a child of a specific gender.

“While the abortions did not take place, attempting to commit a criminal offence - that is, doing something that goes further than just preparing to commit it - is also a crime in its own right under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.

“Having carefully considered the evidence, we have concluded that although the case is not straightforward, on balance there is enough evidence to justify bringing proceedings for an attempt. Accordingly, we have considered whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.

“One highly relevant factor in this regard is that the responsible professional body, in this case the General Medical Council, is already involved and has the power to remove doctors from the medical register.

“Taking into account the need for professional judgement which deals firmly with wrongdoing, while not deterring other doctors from carrying out legitimate and medically justified abortions, we have concluded that the cases would be better dealt with by the GMC rather than by prosecution.

“In coming to this conclusion, we have also taken into account that in these cases no abortion took place or would have taken place.“

Mr Hunt voiced concern about the decision and demanded clarification about the grounds on which the CPS reached it.

He said, “We are clear that gender selection abortion is against the law and completely unacceptable. This is a concerning development and I have written to the Attorney General to ask for urgent clarification on the grounds for this decision.“

MPs and Campaign groups have joined Mr Hunt in expressing concern at the decision, the paper reports. Some have even said that they will take legal advice on whether they can challenge the decision.

Dr Pater Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, who has complained to the police, said, “We seem to have a situation where, at the whim of the CPS, procedures that are clearly laid out in the Abortion Act can be completely disregarded by doctors and the NHS.

“That seems to put doctors above the law and raises questions about the CPS upholding the will of Parliament.

"We seem to have doctors being allowed to reinterpret the law with apparent impunity - it is quite extraordinary.“

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

    £64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

    Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam