London: Doctors can legally carry out sex-selection abortions in Britain, the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled on Monday as he claimed that outdated laws were virtually unenforceable.

Keir Starmer concluded that “the law does not expressly prohibit” such practices.

He published a detailed memorandum explaining the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute two doctors who agreed to arrange illegal abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby.

The ruling is expected to outrage dozens of MPs who have criticised the medical establishment for seeking to redefine abortion laws.

Last night a Christian group said it was poised to launch a private prosecution or judicial review.

Starmer warned that guidance for doctors urgently needs updating amid concern over practices in clinics which do not appear to break the letter of the law.

The two doctors at the centre of the controversy were exposed by The Daily Telegraph after being secretly filmed offering to abort baby girls, even though this is widely held to be illegal.

The CPS decided it would not be in “the public interest” to prosecute them.

Starmer said that the British Medical Association (BMA) advises that “there may be circumstances, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful”.

Its guidance for doctors states: “It is normally unethical to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of fetal sex alone.”

But it adds: “The pregnant woman’s views about the effect of the sex of the foetus on her situation and on her existing children should nevertheless be carefully considered. In some circumstances doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects are so severe as to provide legal and ethical justification for a termination.”

Starmer relied on the BMA guidance for his decision.

He said: “The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said that the ruling was a “grave miscarriage of justice and is abhorrent to the vast majority of Britons”.

Promising legal action, she said: “This response from the DPP shows that the Abortion Act isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. It allows doctors to do whatever they like ‘in good faith’.”

David Burrowes, the Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, said: “We are able to tell China and India that it is wrong to abort baby girls, but the CPS has concluded that it is legal to do it here.

“It completely undermines our argument on the world stage. The current abortion laws are open to exploitation and abuse.”

Starmer has written to Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, raising questions about the application of abortion laws. He published his analysis after serious concerns were raised about the CPS’s approach to the 19-month inquiry.

In a letter to Grieve, Starmer concluded: “There are very real risks in bringing a prosecution in which the prosecution would have to set out, effectively for the first time and to the criminal standard, the approach that should be taken by doctors before authorising an abortion.

“The discretion afforded to doctors under the current law in assessing the risk to the mental or physical health of a patient is wide and, having consulted an experienced consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, it appears that there is no generally accepted approach among the medical profession.” He also concluded that, had a prosecution been mounted, “there is a real risk that different juries would reach different decisions on essentially the same facts”.

The CPS had previously acknowledged that there was a “realistic prospect of conviction” in the doctors’ case.

But it told police that a “public interest test” had not been met.

One of the doctors agreed to arrange an abortion despite likening the practice to “female infanticide” while the other told a woman that her job was not to “ask questions”.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, voiced alarm at the decision last month and pressed for “urgent clarification”.

He said: “We are clear that gender selection abortion is against the law and completely unacceptable.”

Grieve said yesterday: “I understand that the question in these cases was not whether this was a gender-specific abortion, but whether the doctors made a proper, considered medical judgement.”

He added: “It is for the DPP to make his decisions independently and based on the individual facts of the matter.

“However, following our discussions, I am satisfied that the director has taken this decision properly and conscientiously.”