NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Sex Selection Changing Sex Ratios In India

August 13, 1999

Sex determination and selective abortion of female fetuses is widespread in India, reports the British Medical Journal.

Non-government organizations in India, such as the Voluntary Health Association, estimate that hundreds of thousands of fetuses are aborted each year only because they are female.

  • One study of several hospitals in Bombay alone found 80,000 cases of female feticide over a five year period.
  • The practice has contributed to India's declining proportion of females to males; the sex ratio dropped from 935 females for every 1,000 males in 1981 to 927 females for every 1,000 males in 1991.
  • In certain communities in the northern states of Bihar and Rajasthan the ratio has plummeted to 600:1,000, one of the lowest in the world.

The Indian Medical Association and the Medical Council of India have asked doctors to stop providing sex determination services and participating in selective abortion of female fetuses. The Indian parliament outlawed antenatal sex determination five years ago and imposed fines and imprisonment on doctors who reveal the sex of the fetus to parents; however, no doctors have been convicted under the law.

Source: Ganapati Mudur , "Indian Medical Authorities Act on Antenatal Sex Selection," British Medical Journal, August 14, 1999.


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