Doctors suspended in the furore over abortion by gender
Two doctors have been suspended after being filmed granting women illegal abortions based on the gender of their baby.
An undercover investigation found consultants apparently agreed to terminate a pregnancy based only on the baby’s sex, with ‘no questions asked’.
Some were recorded admitting they were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the abortions, it is claimed.
Suspended: Consultant Prabha Sivaraman booked a patient in for an abortion under instructions that 'no questions were asked'
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the allegations and that the abortion clinics have been referred to police to investigate whether an offence has been committed.
One of the consultants, Prabha Sivaraman, who works for private clinics and NHS hospitals in Manchester, told a young woman who wanted to abort a female foetus: ‘I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.’
The woman claimed to have had a blood test in France which had left her ‘pretty certain’ she was having a girl.
She said: ‘That’s not really appropriate for us right now, we were hoping for a boy. It’s the wrong gender – that’s how it is. I’m positive that’s what I want.’
Miss Sivaraman, a registered obstetrician and gynaecologist who works at Pall Mall Medical in Manchester, told the woman that she could have the procedure as a private patient for 200 to 300 on top of the 500 she paid for the consultation.
'Extremely concerned': Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has promised a full investigation into the latest abortion scandal
The consultant later telephoned a colleague to book the procedure at an NHS hospital for the following week, explaining it was for ‘social reasons’ and the woman ‘doesn’t want questions asked’.
A spokesman for Pall Mall Medical said it had ‘suspended clinical contact’ with Miss Sivaraman. ‘The clinic does not condone in any way the referral for termination on the grounds of gender,’ he added.
The Pennine General Hospitals Trust, which runs North Manchester General Hospital, said that it was investigating the allegations but would not confirm if it had suspended Miss Sivaraman.
As part of an investigation, reporters accompanied pregnant women to nine clinics across the country, of which three said they were prepared to abort the baby because of its gender.
The women, who were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, said they had either taken a blood test to determine the sex of the baby or had had a scan.
Mr Lansley said yesterday following the revelations in the Daily Telegraph: ‘Sex selection is illegal and is morally wrong. I’ve asked my officials to investigate this as a matter of urgency.’
A second doctor, Claudine Domoney, a private consultant for a clinic in west London, is also alleged to have agreed to let a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant abort a boy because her husband had a son from his first marriage.
Miss Domoney, who saw the woman at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said she was going away but would ask a colleague to carry out the procedure.
She said after making a phone call: ‘He’s okay for Tuesday.’ She later revealed she had referred the case to a colleague because she was ‘uncomfortable with the situation’.
'Criminal offences may have been committed and we will take urgent action'
Department of Health spokesman
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said Miss Domoney had been suspended pending an investigation. A spokesman added: ‘We take extremely seriously the allegations made against one of its consultants, Claudine Domoney.
‘The practice of “family balancing” through abortion is illegal. The Trust observes this law and does not offer termination of pregnancy on the basis of gender. We are investigating these very serious allegations as a matter of urgency.’ A man believed to be Miss Domoney’s partner refused to comment last night at their home in Tooting, south-west London.
Indian-trained Miss Sivaraman was at her 500,000 home in the upmarket Dore area of Sheffield but also refused to comment.
Her husband, understood to be Manu Mathew, a consultant in ophthalmology at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Derbyshire, said: ‘We’ve both been advised not to comment.’
Other clinics were said to have told the women terminations on the basis of gender were illegal and that they were unable to help.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We will be speaking to the police. Criminal offences may have been committed and we will take urgent action.’
The General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission, which monitors these clinics, has been asked to investigate.
In 2010, 189,574 abortions were carried out in England and Wales, an 8 per cent increase in a decade.