Google India Under Fire for Ads Touting Testing for Sex-Selection Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 12, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Google India Under Fire for Ads Touting Testing for Sex-Selection Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 12
, 2008

Mumbai, India ( — In a nation with a high rate of sex-selection abortions and female infanticides, genetic testing and the use of ultrasounds to tell prospective parents the sex of their unborn child is illegal. However, Google India is coming under fire for advertisements for gender identification kits.

Sabu George, a Delhi-based researcher who has been trying to stop the practice, filed a petition with India courts last month complaining that such ads were appearing on the India versions of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

According to an AP report, the India Supreme Court asked the companies on August 13 to respond to the concerns. George noticed the ads disappeared on all of the sites one day later.

None of the companies have officially responded to the query, but George told AP he noticed the ads reappeared on Google on Thursday.

George says the company is "breaking the law and making money. Every time you click on that ad, Google is making money."

Computer users typing the words "sex" and "selection" on Google India on Thursday would see an ad for the American-based company Urobiologics LLC, which sells urine test kits for $275 to $400 that can accurately determine the sex of an unborn child about 98 percent of the time.

Today, those ads don’t appear, although the company turns up in the normal search engine listings when a search for its name is performed.

Dr. Kuldeep Wirma, the founder and president of the company, told AP that his firm can’t legally ship the kits to India and he promised to pull any ads on Google India.

"We can stop it right away. We don’t intend to do business in India," he said, while admitting that he targeted India users of Google with his ads.

Roli Agarwal, a spokeswoman for Google India, said it is the company’s policy not to include such ads.

"The Google advertising program is managed by a set of policies which we developed based on several factors, including legal requirements and user experience. In India, we do not allow ads for the promotion of prenatal gender determination or preconception sex selection. We take local laws extremely seriously and will review the petition carefully," a statement sent to AP said.

In April, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the laws against the testing need better enforcement.

Singh noted that the sex-selection abortion problem is causing an "alarming" change in the nation’s male-female ratio, with 927 girls born in 2001 for every 1,000 boys. That’s down from a 962-1,000 split in 1981.

"This indicates that growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem," Singh said.

"No nation, no society, no community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity represented by women," the prime minister said.

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