GE Addresses Ultrasound Machines in India Used in Sex-Selection Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 2, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

GE Addresses Ultrasound Machines in India Used in Sex-Selection Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 2,

Bombay, India ( — General Electric held a weekend conference in India to address concerns that its ultrasound machines are being used there to determine the gender of an unborn child and allow parents to have a sex-selection abortion. The Asian nation has been working overtime to try to crack down on such abortions and infanticides.

V. Raja, CEO of GE Healthcare South Asia, told the panel that while the company has been "compliant as far as the law is concerned," it is "willing to do more and to look at suggestions" to reduce the use of its machines.

India adopted a ban on using ultrasound machines in 1994 for non-medical purposes. The law also bans advertisements for prenatal sex determination, as well as the practice of preconception sex selection.

While more than 400 cases have been filed under the law it has only led to two convictions.

GE is the leading retailer of ultrasound machines in India and it has educated its sales team about the problems there. The company requires customers to sign a GE affidavit saying they will not use the machines for sex selection abortions.

According to an AFP report, Raja said GE is a corporation and not a governmental entity and can’t be held responsible for making sure the law is followed.

He did say GE "will certainly look into voluntarily reporting people buying more than one machine and carry out more awareness programs against" the practice.

Female children are seen in many tribal areas as a hindrance and many girl babies are simply taken to remote areas and left to die. Boys are also traditionally preferred in many areas of the country as the main workers in the family and because parents often have to pay large dowries to marry off daughters.

Last December, a new report by UNICEF indicated 7,000 fewer female babies are born every day because parents can determine the sex of their unborn baby and kill her before birth. 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.

UNICEF based the findings on Indian census data and they follow a report in early 2006 from the British medical journal Lancet, which estimated that 10 million baby girls have probably been aborted in the last 20 years.

Some Indian states such as Punjab and Haryana face male-female ratios as low as 799 girls born for every 1,000 boys.