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Abortion: Gender Selection

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 199399, tabled on 5 December 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department next plans to publish an assessment of the extent of sex selective abortion in the UK.

Answered on

12 December 2018

The Department publishes annual sex birth ratio analysis, which provides information on whether there is any evidence for sex selective abortions happening at scale within specific communities in Great Britain. The most recent analysis was published in October 2018 and found no evidence of sex selective abortions occurring in Great Britain over the period 2012 to 2016. The report is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/sex-ratios-at-birth-in-great-britain-2012-to-2016--2

The UK National Screening Committee has recommended Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) be a contingent test in the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme only for trisomy 13, 18, 20 and not for any other genetic marker including sex. Plans are currently underway to make the NIPT test available on the National Health Service for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes only.

Sex selection is not one of the lawful grounds for termination of pregnancy. It is illegal for a practitioner to carry out an abortion for that reason alone, unless the certifying practitioners consider that an abortion was justified in relation to at least one of the grounds in the Abortion Act 1967 such as a gender-linked inherited medical condition. Anyone with evidence that sex selective abortion is occurring should report it to the police.