Draft statement on sex selection and abortion

We are pro-choice feminists who have supported and campaigned for abortion rights. We are shocked by the Crown Prosecution Service's decision that it is ‘not in the public interest' to prosecute doctors who offered abortions on the basis that the child would be a girl. If this decision is allowed to stand, doctors and parents who want to use abortion to get rid of girls will know they have nothing to fear.

The experience of India, China and other Asian countries shows that we must not allow patriarchal cultural preferences to determine which kind of people get born. Of course, the long-term aim is to overcome those sexist traditions. Women have been trying to do that in decades, but in the meantime, the world has lost more than 100 million women and girls as a result of prenatal sex selection and female infanticide.

We acknowledge that pro-life groups may be using this issue to attack abortion rights, but this is not a good enough reason not to uphold the law. We cannot have abortion rights without responsibilities, and we need to do what is right, regardless of who is arguing for it. Women have fought for abortion rights in order to gain vital control over our own bodies, not for the sake of yet another consumer choice. We are concerned that, conversely, attempts to defend such practices by invoking reproductive choice may be part of a libertarian agenda that seeks to gradually break down resistance to a market in 'designer babies'.

It is sometimes said that it is racist to point to these practices in oppressed minorities in Britain. As black and white feminists, we reject this attempt to silence us. If we, rightly, ban Female Genital Manipulation in Britain, the same should apply to sex selection. We are equally opposed to what is said to be a preference for girls in white British populations. Any preference for one sex over the other is based in sexism, and such practices are incompatible with feminism, as we understand it.