by Steven Ertelt
January 10, 2006
New Delhi, India (LifeNews.com) — India’s top doctor’s group is rejecting the analysis by the British medical journal Lancet saying that 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.
At the same time, the physicians group agreed that the use of modern medical technology has been used to further prejudices against girl babies.
Dr. Narendra Saini, spokesman for the Indian Medical Association, says that the use of ultrasound to detect the gender of an unborn child for purposes of an abortion has waned since the Indian government started a crackdown on it in 2001.
"This is not happening for the past four or five years after strict laws were put in place," Saini told the Associated Press. The study’s authors "are mixing the present with the past," he said. "Yes, it happened at one time. Now it doesn’t."
Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research said the Indian government has been lax in enforcing the law and that the practice of sex-selection abortions continues.
"Not even one person has been booked so far. That shows how lax the system is," Kumari told AP. "There is connivance between the doctors and the parents who don’t want girl children. The government has to come forward on a war footing to put an end to this practice."
Madhu Gupta, a leading doctor in the nation’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, told AP that the practice continues but the law has diminished it by a large percentage.
The Lancet article said researchers examined data from an Indian study of 6 million people living in 11 million households nationwide.
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.
Census figures appear to back the study. From 1991 to 2001, the number of girls per 1000 boys declined from 945 to 927.
"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.
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.