London, Jan 11: Illegal abortion on the grounds of gender is reportedly taking place within immigrant communities in Britain, ministers have admitted for the first time after an official analysis of birth statistics.
Officials found signs that birth rates for girls and boys varied noticeably according to where their mothers were born.
A health minister said that these differences in rates of male and female births among mothers of certain nationalities may “fall outside the range considered possible without intervention”, the Telegraph reports.
The statistics form the first official evidence potentially backing up concerns that sex-selection abortions are being carried out in Britain.
According to the report, the practice of aborting unborn babies on the basis of sex has long been considered a problem in India and China, where boys are sometimes considered favourable for cultural or economic reasons.
There has been little official research on whether the practice is carried out in some of Britain’s immigrant communities.
The Government said its new analysis was undertaken after the Council of Europe demanded statistics on the issue of whether more boys than girls are born to mothers of certain nationalities, the report said.
Earl Howe, a health minister, disclosed the Government’s preliminary statistics in answer to a parliamentary question by Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbench peer and former MP who campaigns against abortion.
Lord Alton said the presence of sex-selective abortion in the UK could be a product of terminations becoming too ‘routine, the report said.
He said the practice may have come 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”.
A Department of Health spokesman said any abortion based on sex selection is “illegal and morally wrong”.
A study by Oxford University academics has previously found evidence that suggested Indian women giving birth in Britain were terminating more female than male unborn babies between 1990 and 2005.
In Canada, Dr Rajendra Kale, the editor of a medical journal, last year called for doctors to withhold the sex of unborn babies from their mothers until 30 weeks into pregnancy to stop “female feticide”.
He cited a study suggesting “evidence of a clear son preference among south-east Asian immigrants to Canada”, with male-biased birth ratios among Chinese, Korean and Indian parents.
In 2010 there were 189,574 terminations in England and Wales, an eight per cent increase in the past decade, the report added. (ANI)