by Steven Ertelt
December 11, 2006
New Delhi, India (LifeNews.com) — A new report released on Tuesday by the United Nations agency UNICEF finds that India’s practice of abortion on female unborn children is still alarmingly high. The report indicates 7,000 fewer female babies are born every day because parents can determine the sex of their unborn baby and kill her before birth.
The study shows that, in 80 percent of India’s districts, a higher percentage of boys are born now than a decade ago.
The report cites the increased availability of cheap ultrasound technology as playing a role despite attempts by the India government to crack down on its use.
UNICEF says the resulting gender imbalance from sex selection abortions is particularly prevalent in the wealthier regions of the nation where access to the ultrasound technology easier.
Deepa Jain Singh, secretary to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, told the International Herald Tribune the report is a surprise because of government efforts for years at targeting the non-medical use of ultrasounds and encouraging families to welcome girl babies.
"It was a surprise because there is so much awareness being generated about the need to cherish the girl child," Singh said. "We have to address this in a big way. We have no option."
UNICEF based the findings on Indian census data and they follow a report earlier this year from the British medical journal Lancet, which estimated that 10 million baby girls have probably been aborted in the last 20 years.
The new report shows a severe gender imbalance with 799 girls born in 2001 for every thousand boys in the wealthier northern state of Punjab, down from 875 in 1991. The neighboring state of Haryana saw the ratio drop from 879 to 823.
The results show that a 1994 law prohibiting the use of ultrasounds to determine the sex of a baby for non-medical reasons is not working, even though the Indian government has announced several recent arrests in a renew effort to enforce the law.
The UNICEF report also shows that even if girls are born, they are at a much higher risk of dying in their first year after birth as some Indians resort to infanticide or neglect when a girl is born.
"After birth, son-preference continues to persist leading to the neglect of girls and their lack of access to nutrition, health and maternal care in these critical early years," the report said.
In September, the Haryana government said that people who bring it information about illegal sex-selection abortions or ultrasound use will receive rewards.
The Haryana health department says it will pay informers about $215 dollars U.S. for information leading to the apprehension of violators.
India officials also indicated they would pay another $215 for people willing to serve as pretend customers at medical clinics and doctor’s offices to help expose those who violate the laws.