Abortion Rates Raise Brows in India

The Christian Medical Association of India has raised alarm over results of a study which highlights the practice of aborting girls in preference of boys.

The study noted that for families where the first two children are girls, the third child is overwhelmingly male; 219 girls for every 1000 boys. For parents with one girl, the second child is also more likely to be male, about 558 girls for every 1000 boys.

Although there are laws preventing sex-selection, parents continue to have a preference for boys. Parents in India have availed themselves of doctors' ability to use technology to determine the sex of the child.

"Preference for the male child, combined with rampant misuse of medical technology, is proving to be a menace which needs to be curbed with immediate effect," said Akhila Sivada, executive director of CMAI's policy advocacy and research group (PARG), according to the Times of India.

One commonly given reason for the significant imbalance is the existence of a dowry system, which requires a family to pay a large sum of money when the female child marries. In poor families, this could mean financial ruin and hardship. However custom also plays a role in families that are well off.

The study uses information found in the 2001 national census. Researcher have noted that in some areas of the nation, there are fewer than 800 girls for every 1,000 boys.

"These findings reinforce the argument that any vigorous measures for control of population growth in India will be disastrous for the SRB (sex birth ration), which is already highly skewed against females," said Dr. Joe Varghese, coordinator for the PARG and one of the authors of the report.

Dehli has one of the greatest demographic imbalances, where the SRB is 865 girls per 1,000 boys. This is a drop of 50 since 1991 in six out of the city's nine districts.