Think of “sex selection” through abortion, and countries like China and India will come to mind. But footage of a British doctor working at an NHS hospital telling a pregnant woman who wanted an abortion after finding out she was carrying a girl that she doesn’t “ask questions” has shocked the UK. An inquiry is now underway.

Credit: Kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) via Flickr Creative Commons.

Journalists from the British newspaper The Telegraph went to various abortion clinics around the United Kingdom, secretly filming pregnant women as they ask for an abortion on grounds of gender. During one encounter, the footage of which appears on The Telegraph‘s website, a woman announces that she went to France for a blood test, and  found out they were having a girl. She clearly says that “we were hoping for a boy, and are not looking to have this baby at the moment.”

The doctor immediately proceeds by calling an NHS clinic, “part of her team”, to offer the woman a pregnancy termination on what she describes as social grounds. She tells the woman that she doesn’t ask questions, and doesn’t voice any objections even as the woman, with a clear baby bump, says “it’s the wrong gender, I can’t have it”.

Other similar expeditions revealed that many providers are willing to offer abortions purely on the grounds of the sex of a fetus, with no questions asked. Undercover footage was successfully obtained during three such visits. Healthcare providers were filmed agreeing to falsify papers so the woman would satisfy the requirements to have an abortion.

Sex selection is illegal in the UK, while abortion for non-medical reasons is permitted until 24 weeks gestation. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: ”I’m extremely concerned to hear about these allegations. I’ve asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency.”