Leading article: Deplorable acts of gender preference

There are many grounds upon which a woman may reasonably want to terminate a pregnancy. The sex of the foetus, however, is not one of them. And the evidence that some British clinics are unashamedly agreeing to perform abortions on that basis is deplorable.

That such activities are already illegal does not appear to be sufficient. It can only be hoped that the investigation launched hurriedly by the Health Secretary yesterday yields equally swift results, establishing the extent of the problem and setting out plans for tackling it.

In some other regards, this newspaper would defend to the hilt the individual's right to choose an abortion. Not in this one. Whether or not the termination is requested for a female or male baby, whether it is to fit in with cultural biases or is a "family balancing" effort to avoid a preponderance of one particular gender, there is no possible justification for sex selection.

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