Gender abortions

Other Names:
Sex-selective abortion
Misuse of results of ultrasound for sex determination
Amniocentesis leading to abortion
Gender-biased sex selection

Sex-selective abortions—that is, abortions performed because of the predicted sex of the fetus—occur most frequently where there is a strong gender bias that manifests in a preference for sons. Amniocentesis and sex determination tests have been used to inform parents of the sex of their unborn child. Such cases have resulted in the performing of an abortion when the baby was not of the sex wanted.


Amniocentesis is a procedure which analyses a sample of amniotic fluid to determine whether genetic anomalies exist in a foetus. Ultrasound technology uses the "echo" of sound waves to "visualize" the form of the foetus in the womb as early as from 11 to 14 weeks after conception. Because such tests also indicate the sex of the foetus, these pre-natal diagnostic techniques are widely used to determine the sex of the child before birth, especially in countries and societies where males are preferred to females, as a prelude to abortions of females and, less often, males.


In India, over one million (approximately 3,000 a day) female foetuses are aborted each year after testing. In Bombay alone, 258 private centres for amniocentesis have sprung up over the past few years, and 16 government-supported clinics provide the service as well, where the abortion of female foetuses is as high as 99%. Portable ultrasound units have meant that in some areas the service is "more available than running water". It is estimated that between 1978 and 1982, there were over 78,000 cases of amniocentesis followed by abortion of females in India as a whole.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 15: Life on Land
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
27.08.2019 – 19:45 CEST