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Clampdown on prenatal sex selection in India

16 August 1999
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 21

Doctors in India have been ordered to stop providing sex determination services and participating in selective abortion of female fetuses. The Indian Medical Association has issued a warning that independent investigations will be launched against doctors suspected of participating in such practices and the Medical Council of India has made clear that doctors' licences will be revoked if necessary.

The Indian Parliament outlawed prenatal sex determination five years ago but this is the first time that medical institutions have attempted to put pressure on doctors. Sex selection by selective abortion of female fetuses is widespread in India. Non-governmental organisations, such as the Voluntary Health Association, estimate that abortions of female fetuses number well into hundreds of thousands.

The practice is responsible for the declining proportion of females to males in the country, which in 1991 was calculated to be 927:1000. The 1994 act bans sex determination and imposes fines and imprisonment on doctors who reveal the sex of the fetus to parents. But not a single doctor has been convicted as doctors and parents collude to avoid prosecution. Without written evidence there is little that law enforcement agencies can do.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Indian medical authorities act on antenatal sex selection
British Medical Journal |  14 August 1999
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