Doctors who agreed to abort babies because they were girls will not be prosecuted, despite there being a “realistic prospect of conviction.”
Last year an investigation by the Daily Telegraph in the U.K. found two doctors offering to arrange abortions after being told the women did not want the baby because of its sex.
But now, despite sufficient evidence for a prosecution, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says doing so is not in the public interest.
The decision has prompted concern from the health secretary, who has called for “urgent clarification” on the issue.
And a Christian ethicist warns that the case seemed to put doctors “above the law.”
The CPS denies the move was a “policy decision” and says the matter is for the General Medical Council (GMC). However, the GMC cannot prosecute breaches of criminal law.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says, “We are clear that gender selection abortion is against the law and completely unacceptable.
“This is a concerning development, and I have written to the attorney general to ask for urgent clarification on the grounds for this decision.”
Dr. Peter Saunders, who leads Christian Medical Fellowship, describes the situation as “extraordinary.”
He says, “We seem to have a situation where, at the whim of the CPS, procedures that are clearly laid out in the Abortion Act can be completely disregarded by doctors and the NHS [National Health Service].
“That seems to put doctors above the law and raises questions about the CPS upholding the will of Parliament.
“We seem to have doctors being allowed to reinterpret the law with apparent impunity—it is quite extraordinary.”
And David Burrowes, who sits on the all-party parliamentary pro-life group, says he would be “extremely disappointed” if the CPS “were seeking to put themselves in the position of politicians and Parliament by trying to suggest that this is not an offense that should be prosecuted.”
Keir Starmer, the country’s chief prosecutor, says, “This was a very difficult and finely balanced decision. It was based on the individual facts of the case; it is not a policy decision.”
Starmer says the “specific reasons” would be laid out “in due course.”