Sex tests to fight abortion of girls?

NEW DELHI • The children's minister has proposed the introduction of mandatory tests to determine the sex of an unborn child in a bid to counter the disturbing levels of female foeticide.

Prenatal sex tests are illegal in India, a policy designed to prevent so many unborn girls from being aborted by parents desperate for a boy.

But in a speech late on Monday, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said a more effective strategy would be to record the sex of a foetus at the outset of the pregnancy and monitor its progress.

"My personal view is for a change in the present policy. Every pregnant woman should be compulsorily told whether it is a boy or girl," she said in Jaipur.

"When a woman becomes pregnant, that should be registered and that way you will be able to monitor right until the end whether she gave birth or not and what happened."

Parents and doctors can be jailed for up to five years for asking for or conducting prenatal sex tests but they are still thought to be widespread. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned that India's gender imbalance would have serious consequences.

A 2011 study in British medical journal The Lancet found that up to 12 million girls had been aborted in the last three decades in India.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline 'Sex tests to fight abortion of girls?'. Print Edition | Subscribe