Misuse of results of ultrasound for sex determination
Amniocentesis leading to abortion
Selective killing of female foetuses
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.
Ante-natal choices are biased against females because of the traditional preference in most societies for male offspring. Post-natal sex choice is a euphemism for murder, with infanticide enacted mainly against females.
Abortion is a far safer and less traumatic way of ridding the community of unwanted female babies than most means traditionally used. In India, for example, it has been estimated that the cost of testing and abortion is 10% of the cost to the family of bringing up and marrying a female child. Pre-natal sex testing ensures that no wanted males are aborted by mistake. For a woman it is better to choose a male child than to be cruelly punished or even killed for not producing sons.