Maneka Gandhi calls for mandatory fetal gender tests

NEW DELHI (TIP): Maneka Gandhi, the Women and Child Development minister of India said in a speech on Monday, Feb 1, that recording the sex of a fetus from the start of pregnancy and then monitoring its progress would be more effective than banning prenatal sex tests.

Male babies are preferred in some regions of India, and abortions are sometimes carried out if families discover the sex is female. A 2011 study in the British medical journal The Lancet found that as many as 12 million girls had been aborted in the past three decades in India.

Activists have described her suggestion as “shocking” and say legalizing the tests would only increase the problem.

The tests are officially illegal in India in a policy designed to stop unborn girls being aborted by parents who would prefer a boy.

“When a woman becomes pregnant it 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,” Gandhi said, during a speech in the western city of Jaipur.

“Every pregnant woman should be compulsorily told whether it is a boy or girl.”

Parents and doctors can be jailed for up to five years for requesting or conducting a prenatal sex test, but they are still thought to be widespread, particularly in impoverished rural areas.

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