• Sex Selective Abortion

    21 September 2018

    Dear Constituent,

    Thank you for contacting me about sex selective abortion.


    I completely understand what an incredibly emotive issue this is, and I appreciate the strength of feelings on both sides. It is for this reason that, as with other matters of conscience, the Government adopts a neutral stance on abortion, allowing Conservative MPs to vote freely according to their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. This is a convention which I support wholeheartedly.


    The approach to abortion in Great Britain is set out in the Abortion Act 1967, which states that two doctors must certify that, in their opinion, a request for an abortion meets at least one and the same ground laid out in the Act. These grounds include "risk to the life of the pregnant woman", and "substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped".


    I am encouraged that guidance for doctors on how to comply with the Act has been issued, which stipulates that registered medical practitioners should be able to show how they have considered the particular facts and circumstances of a case when forming their opinion. Full details can be found online at


    Abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal and I am glad that the Government guidance for doctors on how to comply with the Act makes this clear. With regard to the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test, this test is never meant to be used to determine the sex of a child, and I share your concerns that this test could be misused to inform sex selective abortion. That is why I am glad that the Government will continue to review the evidence regarding the test.


    An analysis of birth ratios in Great Britain was published on the website in October 2017 at No substantiated evidence was found of gender selective abortions taking place in Britain. The Department of Health and Social Care continues to monitor this issue, working with other government departments and researchers. 


    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,


    MP for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General