Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at bpas, said:
“We believe in the right of women to access information about their bodies, including their own pregnancies, and do not support a ban on the use of NIPT to establish fetal sex. There are many reasons why women may want that information where it is available, and for many women learning the sex of their baby is an important and valued part of their momentous and life changing pregnancy journey.
“Sex selective abortion does not occur routinely in the UK, and statistics from the Department of Health do not show an unusual gender imbalance in any ethnic community in this country. We are concerned about the assumptions that are sometimes made about how women living in particular communities might use this information if access to it were made more easily available. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics report published last year, which first called for a ban on the use of NIPT for fetal sex, did not engage with any women to explore this issue with them, and women’s voices were almost entirely absent from a report which was permeated by a mistrust of women and their behaviour.
“In the circumstances where a woman is under pressure to produce a child of a particular sex the ethical answer is not to deny every pregnant woman the right to find out information about her own pregnancy, but to do our utmost to challenge misogynistic attitudes, ensure gender equality and access to comprehensive women’s support services so that women can make their own choice about their pregnancy free from coercion.”
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.