Friday, July 1, 2011

Sex-Selective Abortions in India

In India, where there is a strong preference for boys, the girl-to-boy sex ratio among second-order births (the second child) has been declining for several decades. In 2005, for example, there were only 836 second-child girls born for every 1,000 second-child boys when the couple’s first child was a girl – too big a gender difference to be due to natural causes.

Researchers hypothesize that the increased availability of ultrasound is leading to selective abortions of second girls, resulting in anywhere from 4.2 to 12.1 million “missing girls” since 1980. These estimates are backed up by the 2011 Indian census, which reveals that there are more than 7 million fewer girl children than boy children under the age of 6. So here’s a case where an advance in medical science (the development of ultrasound and thus the ability to determine gender long before birth) has resulted in unintended social consequences.

We don’t always know how advances in scientific knowledge will be used by society.

For more on this subject, see a previous blog post titled "The Dark Side of Gender Preference."

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