India May Have Seen 10 Million Sex-Selection Abortions Over Last 20 Years

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 9, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

India May Have Seen 10 Million Sex-Selection Abortions Over Last 20 Years Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 9, 2006

London, England ( — A new study appearing in Britain’s premier medical journal The Lancet says as many as 10 million sex-selection abortions may have occurred in India since ultrasounds were able to detect the gender of an unborn child approximately 20 years ago.

The Lancet article said researchers examined data from an Indian study of 6 million people living in 11 million households nationwide.

Looking at information about 133,738 births, the researchers found that girls were twice as unlikely to be born to educated mothers as uneducated ones — implying those who are educated and have greater financial means were more likely to use an ultrasound to determine the gender of their child and have an abortion.

Based on the gender ratio in other countries, the study estimated that 136 to 138 million girls should have been born in 1997 in India, for example, but only 131 million births of girls was reported, the Associated Press said in a story.

"We conservatively estimate that prenatal sex determination and selective abortion accounts for 0.5 million missing girls yearly," The Lancet article said, according to the AP write-up.

"If this practice has been common for most of the past two decades since access to ultrasound became widespread, then a figure of 10 million missing female births would not be unreasonable," it explained.

Like China and other Asian nations, cultural beliefs place huge favor and greater importance on the birth of boys and infanticide and sex-selection abortions have been commonplace for years.

The India government has introduced efforts to curb the practice by making sex-selection abortions illegal and by prohibiting doctors from revealing the gender detected in an ultrasound unless medically necessary.

Yet by 2001, the gender gap had risen to 35 million, and now experts estimate it as high as 50 million.

Assumed to be prevalent among Hindus, because of their custom requiring male progeny to perform cremation rites, female feticide is in fact found today to be equally rampant among Sikhs and Muslims.

The consequences of female feticide and the resulting gender gap are already unfolding: Girls are being trafficked from impoverished neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal or from disadvantaged or tribal areas in India and sold into marriage.