India Suspends Eleven Doctors Over Ultrasounds, Sex-Selection Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 15, 2006

Jaipur, India (LifeNews.com) — Continuing to crack down on doctors who are illegally using ultrasound machines to tell the sex of an unborn child to her parents so they can have an abortion, India has suspended eleven doctors. India has spent years combating the selective abortion practice as well as infanticides as many cultures in the nation favor boys over girls.

To curb the practices, India has instituted laws prohibiting using ultrasounds for any non-medical purpose, but doctors continue to try to get around the law.

The law has been in place since 1996, by critics say the nation has been slow to enforce it. The rash of suspension may be the first effort by the nation’s government to do so.

So far there have been 387 cases filed under the law, known as the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT) but only one has led to a conviction.

"We, in the last over 45 days, have suspended 11 government doctors and are taking action against 30 private doctors on charges of violating the PNDT act and practicing female feticide," a senior official from Rajasthan’s health ministry told Reuters.

According to Reuters, the convictions followed an undercover television report about doctors using ultrasounds illegally.

The abortions and infanticides have produced a very skewed male-female ratio, which could be as low as 500 or 600 females to 1,000 males in states like Punjab and Haryana.

In March, the first India doctor convicted under the law was jailed. Dr. Anil Sabhani, and his assistant, Kartar Singh, in 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.

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.

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.