Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

Abortion Rights Statement on Nuffield Council on Bioethics Report

Earlier this week, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics published a recommendation report regarding non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to be used to find early NHS screening for Down’s, Edwards and Patau’s. Although the report positively discusses the increase in information that this prenatal test will bring, it also says that women should be denied information about the gender of the foetus, to prevent an increased number of sex-selective abortions. Since there is no evidence of sex-selective abortions in the UK, perpetuating this idea is harmful to women because it suggests that they cannot be trusted to make decisions concerning their bodies and pregnancies.

The report is based on the idea that the NIPT test will help people to access all the information they need to make the right decision for them but it also suggests that information about the foetus’ gender should not be accessed.At Abortion Rights, we believe that women should be trusted when it comes to making choices regarding their bodies and that their right to choose should be protected, rather than questioned.When it comes to choice, it is unacceptable for the medical community not to provide people with all the information they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive lives.

At Abortion Rights, we believe that women should be trusted when it comes to making choices regarding their bodies and that their right to choose should be protected, rather than questioned.When it comes to choice, it is unacceptable for the medical community not to provide people with all the information they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive lives.

We were also disappointed to see that the report moralises the reasons behind abortions, rather than focusing on making all the information accessible. While the report welcomes terminations as a result of specific disability diagnoses, it also frowns upon abortions as a result of other information about the pregnancy. The bottom line is that abortions are very personal and women can seek them for many different reasons, none of which should be considered morally superior to another, as they only concern the woman herself. Being pro-choice means supporting every woman’s right to choose what is best for herself and her situation, and the particular reasoning behind her choice should never be questioned. The assumption that women cannot be trusted with information about their own pregnancies is deeply offensive and potentially sets a precedent in denying patients information about their own condition.

The report hints at the fact that women from certain ethnic groups are more likely to want to resort to sex-selective abortion, which makes us question its unintended consequences. Would all pregnant women be denied the ability to learn the gender of their foetus in case they might have an abortion or just women from certain communities? If this report is about race, then why not address those concerns directly? Sex-selective abortion is a symptom of cultures in which girls and women are systematically devalued. It is not a cause of that devaluation. The answer to overcoming gender equality is not limiting abortion services or information about the foetus’ gender, but by working with community-based groups to raise the status of girls and women. If the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ report is concerned with sex-selective abortion, why do they not recommend additional educational services to the specific communities their stand targets?

Read Abortion Rights Sex-Selection abortion statement here