NEW DELHI -- A day after women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi courted controversy over reportedly proposing mandatory sex determination of a foetus, her ministry has completely denied the reports.
"There is no cabinet proposal for the tracking the sex of a foetus," the ministry said in a statement. "Compulsory determination of foetal sex is an idea given by some stakeholders."
"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. What was discussed by the Minister was that effective implementation of the PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act is one of the ways to check falling child sex ratio," according to the ministry. She made these comments during a Press Information Bureau (PIB) summit in Jaipur yesterday.
Gandhi has instead said to have suggested that sex of each foetus could be registered and in cases where parents request for the sex of their child, female foetuses should be tracked to prevent abortion in such cases because of the gender. However, this was just a suggestion by some stakeholders, she has said, and has invited comments and suggestions on this.
She said in the Jaipur summit that, in her personal opinion, women should be always told the sex of their child while they are pregnant, but that it was just an idea and open to discussion still. She suggested that it was better to track the birth of girl children through this method rather than hope to catch people when they do illegal ultrasound.
Several people have begun responding to the ministry's announcement, pointing the complexity of the situation.
"The issue is not just of legal permissibility of the ban on ultra sound for sex determination but also of cultural and social acceptance of mandatory ultra sound for all expecting mothers.But for such compulsory scan will give an individual identity to the fetus and fetus will be seen as a person/child," commented Rajesh Jogpal, additional deputy commissioner in Palwal, Jind.
Another commenter from Delhi, Salil Kumar, said, "Ma'am we all agree that sex selective abortion is an issue linked with patriarchal mindset and the larger issue of poor status of women in society. The idea of compulsory determination of sex and tracking is very dangerous as in the hurry of quick solution we are prone to make grave mistake and provide an opportunity to proliferation of such ultrasound centres who will now openly tell the parents about foetus sex. But what will happen thereafter. After knowing the sex people will violate the law and kill the unborn as best possible tracking will not be able to prevent and undo the action."
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