The Department of Health (DH) has launched an investigation into claims that doctors agreed to carry out abortions based on the gender of the unborn child.

The news follows claims by the Daily Telegraph, which said it had secretly filmed doctors at a number of abortion clinics offering to abort foetuses based on gender.

In a statement, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the claims would be investigated "as a matter of urgency", and called the practice "illegal and morally wrong".

The DH said it would also ask the General Medical Council to investigate the claims, and that the chief medical officer for England would be writing to all abortion clinics to "remind them of their responsibilities".

The Telegraph's report said that undercover reporters had accompanied pregnant women to nine different clinics throughout the country. In three cases, abortions were offered after the women said they wanted to terminate the baby on the grounds of its sex.

Posted by Robert Mair on 23/2/2012