India: Sex-Selective Abortions Increasing
Thursday, July 14, 2011 9:30 AM

In India, a cultural preference for male children continues to drive the practice of sex-selective abortions. This widespread practice is causing a serious imbalance in the child sex ratio of the population. According to census data, there were 971 girls for every 1,000 boys in 1981, and in 2011 there are 914 girls for every 1,000 boys.

The development of technology that can determine the sex of a fetus early in the pregnancy has escalated the rate of sex-selective abortions. Dr. V Raman Kutty, a professor at the Achutha Menon Centre for health Science Studies in Thiruvananthapuram says, "Advances in medical science have aided the popularity of these tests. The metros are the major centres for the tests with sophisticated laboratories. However, amniocentesis and ultrasound are available even in the clinics of small towns and cities.”

The Indian government is actively trying to combat the prominence of sex-selective abortions. The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act (1994) prohibited the misuse of pre-natal tests for sex selection. Despite a stricter amendment to the law in 2003, there have only been 55 convictions from the 805 cases against doctors who perform sex-selective abortions.

The health department has increased pressure on falsified maternity clinics and illegal sonography centers. The government is also enacting a stricter authorization process for institutions and individuals who use ultrasound machines.


 Compiled from:  K.S. Harikrishnan, Sex Selection on the Rise Despite Stricter Law, Inter Press Service (12 July 2011).