A letter from senior Labour MPs urging a vote against banning sex-selective abortion is “scaremongering nonsense”, a backbench Labour MP has said.
The House of Commons is set to discuss Fiona Bruce’s amendment – which would explicitly ban the practice – today.
For more information and simple arguments in favour of Mrs Bruce’s amendment, visit the Stop Gendercide campaign site.
David Cameron has suggested he would vote against the amendment, but that he wants the abortion rules to be “properly policed”.
Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, criticised the Labour frontbenchers’ letter, saying the arguments used are incorrect.
“It is concerning that an amendment that clarifies what should be the law anyway is meeting such vehement opposition.
“The reasons they have given are scaremongering nonsense”, he said.
In their letter, Shadow Home and Health Secretaries Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall criticise the wording used by Mrs Bruce.
They object to the amendment’s use of the phrase “the unborn child”, claiming it could have “long-term consequences” that might “undermine the framework of abortion law”.
The senior Labour MPs also say sex-selective abortion is already illegal. However, abortion provider BPAS describes the law as silent on the issue, and UK doctors who were secretly filmed agreeing to carry out sex-selective abortions were not prosecuted.
Education for Choice, which is run by pro-abortion group Brook, has also sought to disparage the amendment, calling it “racist” and “anti choice”.
But Tim Montgomerie, a columnist for The Times newspaper, spoke out in favour of the amendment.
He noted that the issue has “divided feminists”, with some seeing it as “an attack on a woman’s fundamental right to choose”.
“If the foetus is merely a blob of jelly – as many pro-abortionists want us to believe – they are determined to resist any law that hints that it might be something more: like an unborn baby girl.”
Writing on The Spectator magazine’s website, a campaigner who describes herself as “pro-choice” and a feminist explained why Mrs Bruce’s amendment was positive.
Rani Bilkhu, who has been campaigning on the issue for a number of years, said that sex-selective abortions are happening in the UK.
Bilkhu said: “We know this because we have been dealing with them. Sometimes this is a matter of physical coercion backed up with violence. Most of the time it is far more subtle, with women themselves seeking sex-selective abortions because they have been brought up to think that women are worth less than men.”
“Action is long overdue and this amendment is an important first step”, she concluded.
In 2014 The Independent newspaper investigated the issue by analysing census figures. It attributed the ‘disappearance’ of between 1,400 and 4,700 females to sex-selective abortions.
Speaking today, David Cameron said he planned to vote “to maintain the status quo”.
“But in doing so, I hope that the abortion rules are properly policed and prosecutions and all the rest of it are carried out when the laws are broken”, he added.