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Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 17.46.27Luke de Pulford is
training for the priesthood and lives in Rome.

Earlier this week, the unelected officials of the Crown Prosecution Service effectively legalised sex-selective abortion in the United Kingdom. In doing so, they have failed to stand up for women's rights by forsaking the opportunity to work towards a Britain that is any safer for baby girls than India or China, the world's sex-selective abortion capitals. If that seems like too strong an interpretation, read on – I don’t think there’s any other way of viewing it

In their statement on Thursday, the CPS made clear that they have all the evidence they need to bring two doctors to justice for permitting illegal abortions, but will not be prosecuting as it's "not be in the public interest" to do so.

Now, no one likes talking about abortion. It's so uncomfortable and emotionally laden that taking a position invariably puts you in the firing line, whichever side of the argument you're on. But this particular case is not really about rights and wrongs of abortion at all. It's about whether or not we are a nation content to turn a blind eye to the targeting of girls in the womb.


To justifying their baffling decision, the CPS released a statement citing three extraordinarily weak arguments as the reasons they have decided to wash their hands of the whole issue. It's worth treating them in detail.

First, they tell us that this decision ought not to be taken as a general policy, so it absolutely doesn't pave the way for even sloppier interpretation of our already widely abused abortion law. On the face of it, this seems like a workable line. Until, that is, you actually look at the evidence which proves conclusively that the doctors in question were cheerfully providing references for illegal abortions. In one case, Dr Prabha Sivaraman told her patient requesting an abortion on the grounds that she didn't want a girl: ‘I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.’ If this abhorrent behaviour does not warrant prosecution, it is extremely difficult to envisage a situation that would, in which case it is hard to argue that this decision would not become normative – which is another way of saying that it would constitute policy. Dr Sivaraman here states matter-of-factly that she will provide abortion on demand, for any reason at all, no questions asked. If she escapes justice, the message to abortion providers is clear: the law counts for nothing.

Second, the CPS refers us to the General Medical Council who have the power to impose punitive measures such as striking doctors off the medical register. "On considering the public interest factors", we are told, "one highly relevant factor is that the responsible professional body, in this case the General Medical Council, is already involve"'. Right, so the GMC are delegated the responsibility of ensuring that the law is upheld and punishing those who flout it. Leaving aside the controversial discussion of the GMC's impartiality as regards abortion, striking someone off the medical register is not prosecution under the law. The GMC has no legal competence whatsoever. How can it be right that we leave the enforcement of abortion law transgressions to a group of medics?

Finally, the CPS statement presents us with an argument so weak that I find it truly remarkable that it made the final cut:

‘…we must take into account the fact that doctors are required to interpret the law and apply it to range of sensitive and difficult circumstances which are not set out in the legislation… the law gives quite a wide discretion to doctors to determine when a risk to the health and wellbeing of a pregnant woman exists’

Even if you buy this (which I don’t), it is manifestly obvious from the evidence in these cases that the point is utterly spurious. There was no attempt to interpret the law here, neither was any effort made to establish whether or not the health and wellbeing of the pregnant woman was at risk. The give-away was the "I don’t ask questions" bit. These arguments are an insult to the intelligence of the public, which the CPS claim to have no interest in the enforcement of abortion law.

All of this should lead us to question why the CPS is bending over backwards not to do its job. Even the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, finds it "very dubious", denouncing the decision to protect professionals from prosecution as, "undermining the principle that everyone is equal under the law".

I’ll leave the reader to speculate as to precisely why the CPS has opted to wash their hands of the whole issue. Having myself tried to obtain information from abortion providers on the nature and extent of the industry, I can quite understand the reticence. Scratch the surface and unaccounted-for millions, fiddled statistics and ideologically driven obscurantism are the name of the game. It’s a nasty business. Amazingly, however, we have a Secretary of State for Health who appears unwilling to capitulate to the Departmental status quo and wants to see justice done, and in this he deserves our support, regardless of your view. Here’s hoping Dominic Grieve agrees and has the spine to force a U-turn.

It is easy to get bogged down in the legal details and the politics. The tragedy is how few thoughts are spared for the girls who are denied life simply because of their gender. It seems to me a vicious irony that the issue so many associate with women’s rights has become the means for the extermination of baby girls at their most vulnerable.

> New Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/genderselectionuk

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