Despite a national mandate prohibiting gender-based pregnancy terminations, ultrasound clinics in Dehli, India have found themselves squarely in the middle of an antique cultural practice that poses a very real threat to national population statistics.
Throughout the country, reports the Hindustan Times, the ratio of female-to-male births has fallen from 966 per 1000 to 914 per 1000 in the past decade, thanks in part to ultrasound clinics that provide fetal sex information to parents upon request.
Now the health department in the eighth-largest metropolis of the world is using media sting operations and informant reward money to catch violators of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. The government is also collecting vendor data tracking the sales and returns of ultrasound machines in the country.
The approach has already caused four ultrasound clinics in the national capital to be shuttered for violations of the law, where, according to the report, “the trend is more pronounced in the rich south Delhi districts.”
Nidhi Bhatnagar, a hospital radiologist who also sits on a state PCPNDT Act inspection and monitoring committee, is quoted as saying that at least 25 couples a day ask to know the gender of their fetus, and imaging clinics are hard-pressed to refuse.
“If one radiologist refuses, then somebody else will do it. It is difficult to refuse business,” Bhatnagar said.