Senior Labour figures are attempting to kill off a proposed amendment to the law which would ban abortions from being performed purely due to the gender of the unborn baby.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has claimed that the new law would block abortions for gender-specific medical conditions, but supporters of the proposed law have refuted this and point to a document by the Trade Union Congress which argues that the measure would “divide communities.”
Members of Parliament are likely to vote against the proposal when the question comes before Parliament, in part thanks to a letter sent by Cooper to Labour MPs in which she argues that a ban on sex selective abortions would have “troubling consequences” as it could inadvertently ban abortions where there are “gender specific abnormalities”.
She also argues against the proposed amendment as it uses the phrase “unborn child”, which she says would open up abortion in general up to judicial challenges because “children are accorded a wide range of protections and rights that are not accorded to the foetus”.
However, advocates of the law have dismissed her letter as “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worst pernicious scare-mongering.”
Peter D. Williams, Executive Officer of campaign group Right to Life told Breitbart London: “Yvette Cooper misleads fellow MPs when she claims that the amendment would affect abortions for sex-linked fetal abnormality. The amendment is simply not relevant in that area, as abortions for fetal abnormality are a legitimate ground in the Act and there is nothing in the amendment that could change this situation.
“Her reaction to the phrase ‘unborn child’ reveals her real motivation: extreme ideology that defends abortion even when it constitutes an abuse against women. The truth is that the law itself attributes the word ‘child’ to fetal human beings in the felony of ‘Child Destruction’ (which applies in the third trimester).”
The proposed amendment, led by Fiona Bruce MP, was drawn up after investigative reporters for the Telegraph filmed doctors agreeing to perform abortions because the unborn baby was a girl. The evidence was handed to the police, who investigated, but the Crown Prosecution Service declined to bring charges against them, claiming that it was not in the public interest.
Ministers at the time insisted that the practice is illegal, but the British Medical Association countered, claiming that there were circumstances under which it “would be lawful”. Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, has slammed current laws as “limp”.
“It is very easy to be drawn into a technical discussion about the law and to forget the reality this amendment seeks to address. There are women in the United Kingdom who are opting to have gender-selective abortions,” he said.
Despite this clear evidence, the TUC has suggested that sex selective abortions do not take place in Britain. An email signed by the Congress’s Westminster correspondent Isobel Larkin claimed that there is no evidence to suggest that they do, and insisted that current guidelines are sufficient.
A document circulated by the TUC also advises: “The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.
Faith groups have reacted furiously, calling the statement ‘offensive’ and pointing out that they have been campaigning against sex selective abortion themselves for many years. “They shouldn’t be saying that,” said Bal Sandhu, of the Sikh Council UK. “I am absolutely shocked. This is completely out of the TUC’s remit. It is very offensive.”
Regarding the suggestion that there may be ‘cultural’ reasons to allow sex-selective abortion, she said: “It is appalling that they can make such generalised statements, that they can say something like that. We are in support of sex-selective abortions being a criminal offence because it will act as a deterrent and people might think twice.
“It doesn’t mean that there will be wife- battering as a result. It will simply send out a clear message that sex-selective abortions are illegal, unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this country.”
Dr Majid Katme of the Islamic Medical Association agreed, saying: “The claim that the amendment is divisive is ridiculous. It’s rubbish. No-one will accept that. How will this divide communities? This is upsetting only the pro-choice people, that’s all.
“All the major faith groups in the UK are strongly united against this criminal act of killing girls in abortion. Why in a civilised society do you target girls to be killed? Why are we going the way of India and China in targeting girls?”
Hindu leaders have also condemned the TUC’s stance, pointing out that they have long been campaigning against sex selective abortion. Members of the Hindu Council UK and National Council of Hindu Temples UK have penned a joint letter on the Bruce amendment, in which they stated: “We are all united in the belief that sex-selective abortion must end. We were campaigning for this long before Fiona Bruce or anyone else became interested.”
Peter D. Williams highlighted the TUC’s offensive attitude, telling us: “The TUC has been rightly rebuked by Asian communities for having suggested that this amendment would put Asian women more at risk of domestic abuse. The unbelievable stereotyping of Asian men and women is fairly repulsive as it portrays Asian women as veritable doormats within marriage and Asian men as misogynistic bullies.”
“This amendment would do nothing but simply force the Government’s hand (who are already on record as stating that they believe sex-selective abortion is illegal) to act to combat sex-selective abortion, and thus help vulnerable women and girls. Both the Shadow Home Secretary and the TUC betray their missions when they oppose it.”