Health Secretary reports Manchester clinic for offering illegal abortions

By Amy Senior

A private clinic based on Manchester’s King Street has found itself at the centre of an illegal abortion scandal today.

Pall Mall medical are one of nine private clinics across the country to have been secretly filmed by Telegraph reporters accompanying pregnant women.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley called an immediate meeting this morning and later referred the matter to medical authorities and the police.

The Department of Health said: “Criminal offences may have been committed and we will take urgent action. We will be speaking to the GMC to ask them to investigate individual clinicians and we have asked the Care Quality Commission to urgently inspect the named clinics.”

Each clinic investigated was asked by the women if they would terminate their pregnancy based on the sex of the child and several agreed.

Prabha Sivaraman, who works for both Pall Mall Medical and North Manchester General Hospital, was one of several consultants to agree to a sex-selection abortion which is illegal in the UK.

She was recorded saying: “I don’t ask questions, if you want a termination, you want a termination.”

After making a call to arrange the abortion insisting that no questions were asked of the prospective patient, Miss Sivaraman informed the patient the cost of the procedure would be around £200 – £300 on top of the £500 consultation fee already paid.

This morning Pall Mall Medical’s Chief Executive, Stephanie Byrom, denied that the clinic offers gender-determined abortions but asserted that if any rules were broken immediate action would be taken.

A spokesman for the company later commented: “We take the provision of the law concerning terminations very seriously. The clinic does not condone in any way the referral for termination on the grounds of gender.”

They added: “Our investigation indicates that the allegations made by The Daily Telegraph relate to the actions of an individual and we have suspended clinical contact with Dr Prabha Sivaraman with immediate effect. The Care Quality Commission registration for terminations was held by Dr Sivaraman and not the clinic.”

The Chief Medical Officer to the Department of Health will be writing to all abortion clinics to remind them of their duties and to outline the conditions of the 1967 Abortion Act which specifically states that terminations on the grounds of the foetus’ sex is strictly illegal.

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