A prosecution against a Sheffield doctor for allegedly agreeing to arrange an illegal abortion for a woman has been dropped.
Prabha Sivaraman, who was registered in Dore with the Care Quality Commission, and Palaniappan Rajmohan, from Birmingham, both faced trials after being filmed in a newspaper sting agreeing to arrange abortions for women because they did not want to have girls - which is illegal.
The pair were both working in clinics in Manchester at the time of the investigation.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided it was ‘not in the public interest’ to pursue the case in 2013, and a group of pro-life campaigners took it over as a private prosecution.
But the CPS was asked to step in and review the case, and have now announced they are forcing it to be abandoned.
Aisling Hubert, 21, from Hove in East Sussex, had brought the rare private prosecution.
She branded the decision ‘a really sad day for women in the UK’.
She said: “We have abhorred the practice in China and India, where millions of (unborn) baby girls are killed simply for being girls.
“Yet when a case like this is exposed in the UK, the CPS actively works to stop a lawful prosecution.
“We have opened the door to gender selection abortion in this nation.”
She said some women in Britain are under pressure to have abortions because they are expecting girls, and have been left without protection by the decision.
The two doctors exercised their legal right to force the CPS to look at the private prosecution and assess the evidence and public interest.
It found that ‘whilst there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, this is truly very finely balanced indeed’.
The CPS added: “However, the public interest considerations in not pursuing a prosecution outweigh those in favour.”
The CPS said it has decided to take over and stop the cases.
The two doctors had both faced criminal cases after being filmed allegedly arranging gender-based abortions in 2012 by undercover reporters at the Daily Telegraph.
It is thought that so-called gender abortion is illegal, because while terminations are allowed under the Abortion Act 1967 in certain circumstances, such as when two doctors agree that continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk to the woman’s life, or physical or mental health, the Act says nothing about the question of gender.
In the footage Dr Sivaraman is told by the expectant mother that she is having a girl, but this is ‘not really appropriate for us’ because she wants a boy.
The doctor replies: “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.”
Both doctors were accused of conspiracy to procure poison to be used with intent to procure abortion, contrary to Section 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
The decision marks the end of a looming legal battle for the doctors.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity which advises and arranges abortions for women, welcomed the news.
She said: “We are very pleased that the three-year ordeal endured by these doctors has now come to an end, and disappointed only that it has taken so long.
“These were healthcare professionals trying to meet women’s needs, who had committed no crime, and yet they have effectively been in the dock since The Telegraph ran its ‘sting’ investigation in early 2012.
“Abortion doctors cannot continue working in an environment where the threat of prosecution is so regularly dangled over their heads by a small number of people opposed to what they do.
“This campaign against doctors has a knock-on effect for services which can severely compromise women’s care. The time really has come to take abortion out of the criminal law and regulate it like other women’s healthcare procedures.”