First India Doctor Jailed Under Law on Showing Unborn Baby’s Gender

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 29, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

First India Doctor Jailed Under Law on Showing Unborn Baby’s Gender Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 29, 2006

Haryana, India ( — A doctor in India has been jailed after revealing the sex of an unborn child via an ultrasound to officials conducting a sting investigation.

This is the first time a physician has been convicted under a new law preventing revealing a baby’s gender that is an attempt to stop sex-selection abortions and infanticides of female babies.

Dr Anil Sabhani, and his assistant, Kartar Singh, in the northern state of Haryana, will face two years in prison for violating the new law.

Local authorities sent fake patients to his clinic after reports surfaced showing he was violating the statute.

According to a VOA News report, Indian authorities found that he told one woman patient that she had a girl unborn child. He promised her he would "take care of it" meaning he would perform an abortion.

India banned the use of ultrasound to reveal the gender of an unborn baby for non-medical purposes after officials saw the extent of its use to foster abortions and infanticides.

India culture values males above females and the targeting of girl babies has produced a startling gender ratio that is already causing societal problems. Girls are being sexually trafficked from impoverished neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal or from disadvantaged or tribal areas in India and sold into marriage.

As many as 6 to 10 million girls have been aborted in the last twenty years according to Italian officials and media estimates.

"It is not difficult to stop the crime, everybody knows which doctors are doing it in any town or any village. So this is public knowledge where it is happening," Sabu George, a consultant with the Center for Women’s Development Studies, told Voice of America.

"But somehow the civil society organizations do not give it adequate priority in terms of stopping the crime, they are not seeing it as genocide," George added.

But 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."

Based on the gender ratio in other countries, a January Lancet 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.

"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.

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.