Sunday, 25 September 2011
NHS maternity units are refusing to tell expectant parents the gender of their unborn baby, an investigation has found.

But some medical groups believe the NHS policies are being driven by fears that females could be selectively aborted among cultures which value boys more highly.

The Council of Europe is due to consider a draft resolution in October which recommends that all its 47 member states - including Britain - instruct hospitals to "withold information about the sex of the foetus" from parents.

The move is a bid to prevent the practice of selective abortion, which they say has reached worrying proportions in some former Soviet states.

...Now, a survey of maternity units in England discloses that several are already refusing to share the information.

...The hospital trusts running the units said parents would only be told the sex of the foetus if there were special medical reasons, such as the chance of a child inheriting a condition which is gender specific.

Couples who simply want to know which colour to paint the nursery - or to tell existing children whether they will be having a baby brother or sister, are told that they can only find out by going private.

All the trusts insisted their policies were drawn up because of tight resources, not concerns about selective abortion.

...Dr Shahab Qureshi, from the Muslim Doctors and Dentists Association, said he was "absolutely certain" that fears about selective abortion were one of the reasons hospitals refused to tell parents the sex of their unborn child.

He said: "This is a major problem and hospitals need to be very careful. Is it ethically right to tell a parent the sex of their unborn child, if you think doing so is going to pose a risk to that baby?"

Dr Qureshi said that among many communities in this country, including those from China, Africa, India and Eastern Europe, a higher status was attached to boys than girls, but said it was very difficult for medical professionals to determine if there was a risk of selective abortion, when very few of those seeking terminations would ever admit such a reason.

Abortions for non-medical reasons are legal until 24 weeks.
Source: Daily Telegraph


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