Bishop of St Albans – Sex-Selective Abortion (Written Answers)

On 5th December 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on the topic of sex-selective abortion.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure greater accuracy in gathering gender-correlated abortion statistics.[HL3171]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Sex of the fetus is not recorded on the HSA4 forms submitted to the Chief Medical Officer; the gender of the fetus is not known for most abortions.

The Department’s latest analysis of birth ratios data published in May found no evidence of sex selection taking place in the United Kingdom. However, we will continue to monitor birth ratios and consider any other evidence that comes to light.


The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what protection they are offering to vulnerable women who feel under pressure to have a sex-selective abortion for fear of injury to their physical or mental health should they give birth to a girl.[HL3172]

Earl Howe: Women who present for an abortion should always have the opportunity to speak to a health professional or trained pregnancy counsellor on their own at some point during the consultation to determine the degree of certainty of their decision. Staff will take this opportunity to identify whether there is any pressure to terminate the pregnancy from others. Where pressure or coercion is identified, pathways should be in place to refer the woman for support from specialist services.


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