Women should be told the sex of the foetus when they are scanned during pregnancy, a senior, retired obstetrician has said.
Prof Wendy Savage told the Mail on Sunday that withholding the information because of fears over sex-selective abortions was “outrageous”.
Some hospitals have a policy not to reveal the sex, but Professor Savage said it was a woman’s right to know.
She also said it was a “woman’s right to decide” when to ask for an abortion.
Speaking after MPs voted to introduce a bill to repeal an 1861 law criminalising abortion this week, she told the Mail on Sunday: “It’s her body and her foetus, so she should have that information.
Parents who want to find out the sex of their foetus can usually do so in a mid-term scan at about 20 weeks but some hospitals have a policy of not telling, according to the NHS Choices website.
Some hospitals say they are too short-staffed to establish the sex and there have been concerns that the scans can sometimes be inaccurate.
But experts have also claimed that the policies may be intended to prevent the risk of selective abortions.
“She is the one taking the risks.
“If a woman does not want to have a foetus who is one sex or the other, forcing her is not going to be good for the eventual child, and it’s not going to be good for (the mother’s) mental health,” she added.
It would remove criminal sanctions over abortion for women and doctors in England and Wales.
‘Sanctity of life’
A spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said although the comments came in a personal capacity they were in the context of the “BMA’s exploration of further abortion liberalisation”.
And, he said, in light of a recent Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists event presenting widespread abortion “as a matter for celebration”.
“Such views have nothing to do with medicine, the care of mothers or concern for the sanctity of life,” he added.
A BMA spokesperson said it supported the current law on abortion, adding: “Though we recognise the diversity of opinion amongst membership, we advise members to act within the boundaries of the law and their own conscience.
“Given the range of views on this subject, patients must be entitled to impartial and objective medical advice and treatment.”