'An appalling practice': David Cameron vows to fight sex-selective abortions

 

Science Editor

The Prime Minister David Cameron said today that sex-selective abortions – where female foetuses are deliberately destroyed because they are the “wrong sex” – are appalling and that he is determined to raise the matter with Britain’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies.

Mr Cameron told parliament that aborting foetuses because they are girls is “simply an appalling practice” and needs to be challenged within the ethnic communities where it might be a problem, not least because it is illegal in the UK.

In answer to a question from Paul Uppal MP, Mr Cameron said that Dame Sally and the Department of Health are preparing new guidance to doctors over abortions which will try to tackle the pressure that some pregnant women face to have sons in preference to daughters.

The Independent published an interview on Saturday with a young British-born mother of Pakistani parentage who said that she was pressured by her husband to have two abortions after pregnancy scans had shown that the foetuses she was carrying were female.

This followed our revelations earlier this year, based on an analysis of the 2011 national census records suggesting that up to 4,500 girls may be “missing” from the census data of England and Wales because of sex-selective abortions either in the UK or abroad within certain ethnic minorities.

Mr Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton south west, said that he raised the issue at Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons after seeing The Independent’s coverage and realising from discussions with his own constituents that there is a hidden problem within some ethnic groups.

“I’ve had conversations with people who’ve told me it’s going on and I trust what they are telling me. It’s a very subtle pressure on women to have sons. The expectation is there – I’ve seen it first hand myself,” Mr Uppal said.

“By talking about it and raising the profile, I’d like to take on the cultural pressure within families to have boys. Some Asians have such a preference for boys that they even define themselves by how many they have,” said Mr Uppal, who is from a Sikh background and has two daughters and a son.

“Anecdotally, I’ve had conversations with people about the pressure within extended families to have boys and how women sometimes come under pressure to abort foetuses if they are girls,” he said.

Earl Howe, the health minister, has said that there is no evidence for sex-selective abortions in the UK and that there are other explanations for The Independent’s census findings.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy