Baby in hands
The amendment was tabled by Tory MP Fiona Bruce and is designed to make the rules clearerReuters

Performing a sex-selective abortion could become a specific criminal offence as MPs are to debate the issue in the House of Commons today.

The amendment to the Serious Crime Bill, known as the Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill, is designed to make it clear to doctors that it is illegal to terminate pregnancies because of the sex of the foetus.

The proposed legislation was tabled by Tory MP Fiona Bruce, who claimed that there is "widespread confusion" over the law.

"[The Bill] merely clarifies that nothing in section one of the Abortion Act 1967 allows a pregnancy to be terminated on the grounds of the sex of the unborn child," Bruce argued.

"We know sex-selective abortions are happening in the UK and little is being done to stop this."

But the amendment, which is to receive its second reading, has faced opposition from an abortion company.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) argued that the bill would not protect women from pressures to abort girls and the move would lead to a hike in assaults by male partners to make mothers miscarry.

"It has been suggested that this amendment is needed because women in certain communities are under pressure to terminate female pregnancies," said Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at BPAS.

"However, rather than focusing on the needs of a woman in that situation, this amendment is designed to restrict her choices and will harm those it purports to protect.

She added: "Any woman under pressure to have a termination needs to be able to talk openly with healthcare staff about her situation so that they can be offered the support they need.

"Effectively criminalising these discussions will do nothing to help women in these desperate circumstances.

"Sex-selection abortion is a result of deeply entrenched gender discrimination which is not tackled by criminalising women's bodies and decisions but by confronting root causes. We urge MPs to vote against this amendment."

The bill is unlikely to pass into law unless it receives the support of the government.