Illegal abortion of unwanted girls could be taking place in Britain.
Analysis of birth statistics has found that the ratios of girls and boys born to mothers in some immigrant communities “fall outside the range considered possible without intervention”, Health Minister Earl Howe said.
While the number of girls and boys born in the UK as a whole is within normal limits, in some communities the ratio varies noticeably. The data could indicate that sex-selection abortions are happening in Britain.
Aborting unborn babies because of their gender has long been considered a problem in areas of India and China, where boys are sometimes considered favourable.
Earl Howe, who disclosed the figures in response to a parliamentary question by Lord Alton of Liverpool, said officials would continue to monitor the birth ratios.
“While the overall United Kingdom birth ratio is within normal limits, analysis of birth data for the calendar years from 2007 to 2011 has found the gender ratios at birth vary by mothers’ country of birth,” Earl Howe said.
Lord Alton told the Daily Telegraph that sex-selective abortion in the UK could be a product of terminations becoming routine.
“Abortion has become so routine in Britain, with 600 taking place every day, that people have accepted the mantra that it’s just a matter of choice, but that’s not what the law says,” he said.
“There is a fundamental debate to take place here.”
He said the practice might have been imported from areas of the world where it is more common, including India and China, “where sex-selective abortions have taken place on an industrial scale”.