The Devastating Impact of Sex-Selection Abortion in India

By Dave Andrusko

An Indian nurse cares for new born babies in a nursery at a hospital in India.

It’s been such a busy last few days that only now am I getting to an ominous report out of India that documents how radically sex-selection abortion has upset the ratio between the sexes. According to a new preliminary census, there are now 914 girls under age 6 per every 1,000 boys, the lowest ratio since 1947 when India secured its independence from Great Britain. A decade ago there were 927 girls for every 1,000 boys.

“It’s illegal in India to abort a child just because of its sex,” CNN reported, “but such abortions happen, often aided by illegal clinics.” Only China is more populous than India (now at 1.21 billion people), but forecasters predict India will surpass China by 2030.

Speaking about the alarming trend, last month India’s Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath told Parliament, “The reasons for high number of incidence of female feticide in India include a deep-rooted traditional son preference, continued practice of dowry and concern for safety of the girl child and exploitation and abuse of women and girl children.”

According To Tirath India is employing a variety of tools to try to restore balance between the sexes. “[S]everal Indian states have announced incentives for the birth of baby girls and have criminalized sex-selective abortions,” she said.”Tirath also stressed that socio-economic empowerment of women is essential to help them make informed decisions and change their mind sets.”

The one piece of good news is that among adults, the ratio has improved slightly. In 2001 there were 933 women to every 1,000 men. There are now 940 women to every 1,000 men.

Last week we ran a story about the work of Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, a retired businessman, who has established a charity in the village of Bir Rarke to try to convince villagers not to abort baby girls  ( However, in that same story we quoted from a just-published paper written by Professor Sonia Balhotra “that shows each year in India around 500,000 girls are aborted because of foetal sex selection.”

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