Amid the furore over her statement on making sex determination tests compulsory during pregnancy to save the girl child, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi issued a clarification Tuesday claiming that she only said there was an “alternative” view that needed to be considered.
“Some of the newspapers have reported that the minister referred to a Cabinet proposal about tracking female foeticide and registering the sex of the foetus. This is factually incorrect. Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi had said that there is an alternative point of view that if each pregnancy could be registered and the sex of the foetus could be made known to the parents and if the same happens to be a female, the delivery should be tracked and recorded. Such a system would help in ensuring that a foetus is not aborted only because it is a female,” a statement by her ministry said. It underlined the point that no such “formal proposal” was at the moment being considered either by the ministry or the Cabinet.
— Ministry of WCD (@MinistryWCD) February 2, 2016
Senior officials in the health ministry, which is the administrative ministry for the law against female foeticide, too confirmed that there is no such proposal to change the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 that was being considered at any level in the ministry.
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In a brief but terse rebuttal, Health Minister J P Nadda said in Jaipur: “I don’t speak on issues which are not decided by the Cabinet.”
Meanwhile, describing Maneka’s “alternative view” as regressive, Dr Amar Jesani, editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, said that it amounted to transferring the responsibility for sex selection to the woman rather than the medical profession. “The proposal to monitor pregnancies amounts to victimising the victim, by leaving out the people who are making money by unethical means. It is draconian because it violates patient rights and makes it mandatory for the woman to undergo tests that are not necessary. Besides there are options like amniocentesis that can detect foetal sex much before ultrasound does. Such a move cannot really keep people, who are inclined to do so, from aborting,” Jesani said.