Statement on Sex-Selection Amendment to the Serious Crimes Bill

“Many of you have contacted me about the sex-selection abortion amendment to the Serious Crimes Bill. I consider sex selection a major human rights crisis in many parts of the world that Parliament needs to consider. Sex selection is a form of discrimination against women and a major threat to gender equality. Fiona Bruce’s New Clause 1 did not address gender discrimination and inequality.”

“I opposed New Clause 1 on the following grounds:

(1) There is no evidence base for the claim of a pervasive practice of sex-selection abortions in Britain.
(2) The Abortion Act 1967 already makes it clear that sex selection abortion is against the law.
(3) There are already measures to address coercion already and these need to be better implemented.
(4) It is right to promote individual women’s rights.
(5) A number of respected health organisation have raised concerns about New Clause 1. These include the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the British Medical Association (BMA), the TUC, the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), the Genetic Alliance, IMKAAN, and Southall Black Sisters, amongst others.

The amendment was defeated in the House of Commons by 292 votes to 201.”

“A cross party amendment, which I co-tabled, called for a strategic plan that addresses concerns about the prevalence of terminations on the grounds of the sex of the fetus in England, Scotland and Wales. This issue needs to be addressed by wider-society and the value place on women and girls. Our amendment deals with the custom, practice and prejudice that surrounds sex-selection abortions. The amendment ensures a Government strategic plan to promote cultural change, ensure best practice to support vulnerable women and stronger guidance to health professionals and communities on the existing law. Our amendment was supported in the House of Commons by an overwhelming 491 votes to 2.”

More information about the Serious Crimes Bill can be found on the Parliamentary website here: