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Good news from the U.K. today, as the House of Commons voiced strong opposition to the notion that the sex of a child should ever be considered relevant to the legality of an abortion. Georgia Graham of the The Telegraph reports:

MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion declaring that sex-selection abortion is illegal. They voted 181 to 1 for a motion brought forward by a cross-party alliance of MPs in an effort to end uncertainty over whether doctors can be prosecuted for the practice. It will now have a second reading in January.

Fiona Bruce, who presented the bill, wrote an op-ed last week explaining her reasoning. Sex-selective abortions are still happening despite repeated government insistence that the mental anguish a mother might experience from having a baby of a certain gender—in this case, it’s almost always a girl—does not count as a legitimate reason to abort under the 1967 Abortion Act. Very often it is pressure from the child’s father that induces the mother to seek a sex-selective abortion.

As Bruce said, “I find it deplorable that anyone would be satisfied to provide a sex selective abortion to a woman who after she has had it is then sent afterwards back to an abusive partner. What needs to be addressed in these dire circumstances is the abuse itself. That is one of the aims of this bill.”

Bravo to Bruce. Her bill not only stands up for those most in need; it’s also a clever political pitch. She enlists her colleagues’ impulses to protect discriminated classes by both describing the link between abortions and abusive relationships, and between abortion and gender discrimination more broadly. Bruce shows that the fates of the unborn and mothers in compromised social or economic situations are intertwined and should not be set against each other as they so often are.

Though the Abortion (Sex-Selection) Ten Minute Rule Bill has not yet been signed into law, its future looks bright, as does the future of a number of babies who otherwise might not have had one at all. 

More on: Abortion, England

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