Western State in India Cracks Down on Use of Sonograms to Target Female Babies

By Dave Andrusko

The Times of India is reporting that as the result of a massive inspective drive as many as 273 sonography centers have been shut down for violations of the 1994 Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act in the state of western state of Maharashtra. Recognition has also been withdrawn from 75 government recognized abortion centers for “breaching norms of MTP (medical termination of pregnancy) Act.”

India as a whole faces an enormous sex-ratio imbalance as a result of the abortion of female babies who had been identified via ultrasound. But while the national average is 914 females for 1,000 males (between the ages of 0 and 6) in Maharashtra the number is only 883 (down from 913 in 2001).

The PCPNDT Act was amended in 2003 to prevent sex-selective abortion. “This act allows diagnostic tests to be performed only to determine abnormalities of an unborn baby, but prohibits it for sex determination,” according to the Times.

The decision to make the surprise inspections, authorized by the PCPNDT Act and conducted between June 13 and July 1, was made by “the highest decision-making level in the state. “[I]t was decided to ensure that strict action should be taken against those centres and doctors who indulge in sex determination and sex selective abortions,” Suresh Gupta, additional director of state health services, told the Times.

There were a host of reasons the 273 songraphy machines were sealed including improper record maintenance/non-submission, unregistered sonography machines on site, and various provisions under which the sonography machines were sealed in the current drive include improper maintenance of record, and the use of “unregistered and unauthorized doctors.”

“Decoy cases have been conducted against some centres and are being planned throughout the state to curb the menace of sex determination and sex selective abortions. It is planned to continue the drive in near future and book erring doctors,” Gupta told the Times. “All such centres in state are, therefore, appealed to follow all the provisions of the Act strictly and scrupulously and keep away from any breach of the Act.”

We have discussed the new book “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” by journalist Mara Hvistendahl three times. As a result of sex-selective abortions there are more than 160 million “missing females” worldwide.

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