Britain's unwanted girls: stats point to sex-selective abortion
Figures suggest illegal abortions on gender grounds are happening in UK immigrant communities
ILLEGAL abortions on the grounds of gender may be taking place within immigrant communities in Britain, ministers admitted last night.
A preliminary analysis of birth statistics suggests that birth rates of male and female babies among mothers of certain nationalities "fall outside the range considered possible without intervention".
It forms the first official statistical evidence potentially backing up concerns that sex-selection abortions are being carried out in Britain, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The practice of aborting unborn babies on the basis of sex has long been considered a problem in areas of India and China where boys are considered favourable for cultural and economic reasons.
The new analysis was undertaken after the Council of Europe demanded statistics from Britain and other European countries on the issue of sex-selective abortions.
Earl Howe, a Tory health minister, disclosed the government's preliminary findings last night in answer to a parliamentary question by Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbench peer and former MP who campaigns against abortion.
He said: "For a very small number of countries of birth there are indications that birth ratios may differ from the UK as a whole and potentially fall outside of the range considered possible without intervention." The evidence is still preliminary but officials will continue to monitor the issue.
Abortions for non-medical reasons are legal up until 24 weeks but terminations on the basis of gender are illegal.
Last year, the Telegraph filmed three British doctors offering 'sex selection' abortions. A study by Oxford University previously found evidence that suggested Indian women giving birth in Britain were terminating more female than male unborn babies between 1990 and 2005.