Britain’s Lost Girls: Sex-Selective Abortions Claim Thousands of Daughters

by Alec Torres

After digging into the data of Britain’s 2011 National Census, the British newspaper the Independent estimates that thousands of females have been aborted because of their sex.

Though a government investigation in 2013 determined that girls were not being targeted for abortions, the Independent’s investigation found that some ethnic communities in Britain did not have the natural balance between males and females, and that the abortion of somewhere between 1,400 and 4,700 female fetuses best accounts for that imbalance.

The Independent reviewed the census statistics — particularly statistics of immigrant families, such as those from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan — finding that in two-child families, having a girl as the first child significantly increased the chances of having a male as the second child. When these immigrant couples already have a daughter as their first child, in other words, they sometimes abort girls to ensure the second will be a boy.

While it is illegal to abort infants on the basis of their sex in Britain, an ultrasound after 13 weeks allows doctors to determine the sex of a baby with 99 percent accuracy. Ten percent of England’s 190,000 annual abortions take place after 13 weeks.

The Independent reportedly verified their interpretation of the data with professional statisticians, who determined that the sex imbalance is statistically significant and is probably caused by sex-selective abortions.

“The only readily available explanation that is consistent with a statistically significant gender shift of the sort observed in the census data is gender-selective abortion,” Dr. Christoforos Anagnostopoulos, a statistician at Imperial College London, said. “In the absence of a better theory, these findings can be interpreted as evidence that gender-selective abortion is taking place.”

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service has refused to punish doctors who carry out sex-selective abortions, and some Brits have even argued for the outright legalization of the practice.