India contemplating controversial new law to fight sex-selection abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Up to eight million unborn girls may have been aborted in India in last decade

A story in today’s Daily Telegraph newspaper says that the government of India is contemplating jailing family members who coerce women into have sex-selection abortions.

It is against the law in India to perform sex determination ultrasounds and sex selective abortions.

“But in the last ten years only 463 people have been prosecuted and the government’s Ministry for Women and Child Development wants to turn the focus on the family networks which put pressure on women to abort unborn girls,” reporter Dean Nelson writes from New Delhi.

Absolute numbers can only be educated guesses, but there is reason to believe up to eight million unborn girls have been aborted in India in the last ten years. “UN figures show that female infants are twice as likely to die in India before the age of five,” Nelson writes. “The number of girls born per thousand boys has declined from 976 in 1961 to 914 in 2011, according to census statistics.”

Nelson quoted an unnamed “senior ministry official” who told him,

“It is important to make families equally accountable. The families go to clinics performing sex selection tests, so logically they initiate the process of sex selection and female foeticide. We are seeking amendments in the present law to make families equally liable for the offence,” she said.

According to Nelson, the  proposals have been sent to the Law ministry for detailed drafting.

But Ranjana Kumari of the Council for Social Research said, “This should be looked at with great care.” According to Nelson, Kumari “said pregnant women already suffer intense harassment, and sometimes violent attacks, from the husbands and in-laws they live with, to have ultra-sound sex determination tests and abortions.”

“Under the new proposals for collective punishment they will also be blamed by their husbands’ families if they are prosecuted,” she tells Nelson.

Ironically, after pointing out that “women will get the blame and be penalised,” Kumari turns the dire plight of women pressured into having sex-selection abortion in a pro-abortion direction. 

“The fundamentals of female empowerment will be absolutely tampered with [under the proposed law],” Kumari said. “Control over our own bodies is a fundamental right for women,” she added.