Indian authorities raid illegal sex-selective abortion enterprise

By Dave Andrusko

Early on Sunday the Directorate of Medical Services for the Indian state of Tamil Nadu busted an illegal sex-selective abortion racket in a sting operation, according to The Hindu, a local daily newspaper.

The proprietor, a woman named Anandhi, had been arrested for the same offense in 2012 and 2016.

Under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, no laboratory or center or clinic is allowed to conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the fetus. The Act’s intent is to “prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex selective abortion.”

The Hindu reported that the vigilance team had received information about Anandhi and monitored the house in the city of Tiruvannamalai.

“We sent a pregnant woman to her house as a decoy. Initially, her son chased her away, but after much pleading he gave Anandhi’s number,” said M. Kamala Kannan, Superintendent in the vigilance team.

She asked the decoy to go to the Tiruvannamalai bus stand and gave the phone number of Sivakumar, an autorickshaw driver, who doubled up as a broker. The driver picked her up and took her to Anandhi’s house.

A team led by Thomas Prabhakar, Assistant Commissioner in the vigilance team, S Natarajan, radiologist, from Government Hospital, Cuddalore, Mr. Kamalakannan and others raided the house.

Two others were arrested, The Hindu reported.

In a follow-up story that ran the very next day in the Times of India Pushpa Narayan reported that Tamil Nadu’s health department

warned that it would jail spouses and kin of pregnant women who seek to determine the sex of the fetus. So far the government has only been arresting quacks or doctors who determine the sex of the fetus in violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act.

On Sunday police had detained “at least five pregnant women after officials from the directorate of medical services told police they had travelled from other districts to find out the sex of their fetus at an illegal scan centre run by the arrested quack, Anandi,” Narayan reported.

“We let the women go after we asked their husbands to promise they will not be taken to other centres for sex determination or sex-selection abortions,” said directorate of medical services superintendent Kamalakannan. “From the next time we will be arresting spouses and relatives who force women to engage in sex selective abortions,” he said.

The generalization that only poorer people with a cultural preference for boys would have sex-selective abortions has long since been demolished. In his story Narayan explains that educated couples are also procuring sex-selective abortions.

“One of the couples, graduates and upwardly mobile living in Puducherry, came by car to meet Anandi,” said Kamalakannan. “The couple had two girl children and they did not want the third one to be a girl. When we threatened to initiate action, the couple said they will not opt for sex-selective abortion ever again.”