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Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Thursday, 23 February 2012

Gender abortion claims 'disturbing'

The Daily Telegraph says it has found evidence that some clinics in this country are offering abortions to women purely on the basis of the sex of the baby - a practice which is illegal if true.

The paper claims its reporters went with pregnant women to nine clinics, and three of them agreed to offer abortions when mothers-to-be said they did not want to have a baby of whichever sex they were carrying.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley he has asked his officials to carry out an urgent inquiry into the claims.

Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of the Midland Fertility Clinic and former vice-chair of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology's Ethics Committee, told the Today programme's John Humphrys that every clinician is well aware that terminations on the grounds of sex are illegal, but that it is known that some women do ask for this.

She said that advancements in the ability to detect the sex early on in pregnancy may "fuel the desire for a designer baby".

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