Hypocrisy of Choice

My “Beyond Satire” meter is, once again, registering in the red zone. I’m not sure why this story made the news; maybe because we’re talking Britain and not India or China.

Women are being granted illegal abortions by doctors based on the sex of their unborn baby, an undercover investigation by The Daily Telegraph reveals.

First of all, being Canadian, it is strange for me to see the phrase “illegal abortions”. My country, to its everlasting shame, has absolutely no legal restriction on abortions whatsoever. It is possible to kill an unborn child right up to the nano-second before delivery – though as legal precedent has shown in at least one case involving incompetent midwives, a baby is actually considered ‘not born’ and therefore a non-person until the umbilical cord is cut, and sometimes, even beyond that. We are very sophisticated and nuanced in Canada when it comes to determining at what point personhood and human rights begin, but I digress.

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In the UK, however, some types of abortions are still illegal.

Doctors at British clinics have been secretly filmed agreeing to terminate foetuses purely because they are either male or female. Clinicians admitted they were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the abortions even though it is illegal to conduct such “sex-selection” procedures.

Citing 2010 statistics, The Telegraph claims that nearly 190,000 abortions took place in England and Wales, an 8% increase over the course of a decade. More female than male fetuses tend to be aborted. To which any non-hypocritical pro-choice advocate would reply, “Meh, so what?”

In the UK, abortions for “non-medical reasons” are legal until 24 weeks. Sex-selective abortions were declared illegal in the 1967 Abortion Act, but the law is obviously fairly easy to circumvent. As one doctor said, “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.”

At least you can’t fault her for moral inconsistency. Which might be more than can be said for Britain’s Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, who said: “I’m extremely concerned to hear about these allegations. Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong. I’ve asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency.”

So, let me get this straight: killing a fetus for no reason or any reason (even “non-medical” reasons) is okay; killing a fetus because it’s male or female is somehow suddenly  “morally wrong”. How so? Who gets to decide what constitutes a “morally wrong” reason for an abortion? Pro-choice advocates have long insisted that abortion is a private choice between a woman and her doctor (never mind taxpayers forced to foot the bill). When does society have a compelling interest in the life of the unborn child?

Why is Mr. Lansley not extremely concerned, or even mildly concerned, about the thousands of other fetuses being aborted in Britain every day? So we need not be concerned about a baby girl who is being aborted because she has a cleft lip, or has Down’s Syndrome, or because the boyfriend demands it, or because mum won’t fit in her bikini this summer, but we must be “extremely concerned” about an unborn baby girl who’s being aborted just because she’s a baby girl? It sounds to me like just another choice.



  • Mariette Ulrich

    Mariette Ulrich is a homemaker and freelance writer. She lives in western Canada with her husband and six of their seven children. Mariette holds an Honours B.A. in English Literature (University of Saskatchewan). Her columns and articles have appeared in various journals, newspapers and magazines in Canada, the U.S., England and Australia.

tagged as: abortion Canada Law UK

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