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The Concern Behind Early Gender Tests in the UK

Gender Tests Leading to Abortion of Girls in Great Britain

Recent studies suggest that early gender tests in the UK are leading to rising numbers in abortions when discovered that the sex of the baby will likely be female. This is done through certain blood tests early on in the pregnancy. It’s the policy of the NHS that only allows these tests in order to screen for certain genetic conditions however private clinics offer the service to expectant parents who wish to know the babies gender early for between £150 and £200.

It is believed that this is in large to do with certain cultural pressures being set upon women in certain ethnic minority communities within the UK. An interview with Jeena International which is a charity that supports women from ethnic minority communities here in the United Kingdom revealed that women were sometimes forced to abort their child due to the fact that they became pregnant with a female child for a second or third time.

This interview was with the charities founder Rani Bilkhu who stated they were resorting to this option because they have “no choice”. She went on to say that if they didn’t it would likely end up in a failed marriage or perhaps even homelessness for the mother “all because they couldn’t give birth to a boy”. Unlike here, both India and China have brought in laws that ban what are known as sex-selective abortions, though the Labour party are now calling for a ban on the misuse of the blood screening in order to determine whether or not you’d like to keep the child.

The Labour MP Naz Shah, shadow minister for women and equalities believes that the government must act immediately if they hope to put an end to the ill use of NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing) in order to abort pregnancies due to gender outcome. In an interview with the BBC Ms Shah stated that “The government needs to look into this exploitative practice and enforce appropriate restrictions,” she also went on to discuss how ethnic minority groups in the UK were forcing women to use methods like NIPT in order to live up to the expectations of certain members of their families. The BBC discovered that there were in fact thousands of pregnant women heading to online forums who were discussing discovering their child’s gender through this form of testing.

A warning has been put out by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which is an advisory body for the government. They have cautioned that the increasingly widespread NIPT testing from private services in the country could cause the UK to become something of a haven for sex-selective abortions. Another Labour MP, Tan Dhesi has also gone on record stating that private clinics shouldn’t be allowed to use NIPT testing in order to determine a baby’s gender. In response to the research and warnings the Department of Health and Social Care have said that the government will “continue to review the evidence” on the subject, though many believe that action should be take as soon as possible.