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Ban of gender-based abortion passes first vote in British Parliament

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Catholic News Service

British parliamentarians overwhelmingly approved a bill to criminalize the abortions of baby girls simply because of their gender.

The Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill was approved 181-1 on first reading in a Nov. 4 vote in the House of Commons.

The bill was introduced by Fiona Bruce, a Conservative Party Member of Parliament, after abortion providers and the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, both insisted that sex-selective abortions were permitted under the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act.

Because the government has argued that such abortions are illegal, the bill has the purpose of ending the ambiguity by stating explicitly that such abortions are illegal.

The huge level of support for the bill was welcomed by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, England, within whose diocese Bruce’s Congleton district is located.

“It takes courage for a politician to oppose the culture of death in its many forms,” Bishop Davies said in a Nov. 4 email to Catholic News Service.

He added: “Congleton’s MP, Fiona Bruce, deserves the support of all who uphold the sanctity of human life in her efforts to protect the lives of the unborn in gender-based abortions.”

In a Nov. 4 statement, Bruce said the 1967 law was being interpreted too liberally and that “today Parliament agreed that more legislation is needed to silence those claiming that sex-selective abortion can be legal.”

“Never would Parliamentarians in 1967 have imagined that 47 years on, there would be dispute about whether their act permitted abortion where the baby was the a boy or a girl,” she said.

“If the social clause of the act permits sex-selective abortion, the time to revisit it is long overdue,” she continued. “Until then, today’s vote has given a clear signal that MPs are united in working toward a time when the words ‘it’s a girl’ are met with celebration rather than despair.”

The bill’s second reading is set for Jan. 23, though politicians believe it is unlikely to be given time for further debate in the present parliamentary session.

The outcry in Britain over gender-based abortions follows investigations by national newspapers, which found that women who did not want to have baby girls were offered abortions.