Intended for healthcare professionals


Sex selection and abortion in India

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 25 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1957
  1. Anita Jain, India editor, BMJ
  1. 1BMJ, India
  1. ajain{at}

Efforts to curb sex selection must not retard progressive safe abortion policies

Abortions for the purpose of sex selection in India have again caught the attention of Indian policy makers and the global press after the 2011 Indian Census showed a decline in the sex ratio. The number of girls per 1000 boys dropped from 927 in 2001 to 914 in 2011 for children aged 0-6 years.1 Most notable was Maharashtra state, which recorded a decline in the sex ratio from 913 in 2001 to 883 in 2011. Under an intense media spotlight, the state has set out to “save the girl child” under the tenets of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act. There have been waves of suspensions of doctors for violating this act.2 However, a parallel stream of ill informed directives may result in the victimisation of women seeking abortion.

The act3, passed in 1994 and amended before coming into effect in 2003, regulates prenatal diagnostic techniques in India and prohibits their misuse for sex determination. The act …

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