“I don’t see the point of forcing parents to give birth to unwanted girl children.”

If we did not have the option of banning sex selection, how do you think would we deal with the skewed gender ratio? Do you think maybe then we would be forced take an honest and serious look at why Indian families do not want to have and to raise girl children? 

Sharing this email from freebird.


Here are some thoughts and I wanted your perspective:

I have seen TATA – Jaago Re episode on female foeticide where it was suggested that there should be a law against aborting girl-child. I disagree with it firstly on ethical grounds, that this law differentiates between the life of a girl-child and a male-child. And secondly, I believe that forcing parents to have unwanted children would only result in the children suffering throughout. I sometimes wonder if people who treat female foeticide as an isolated issue see women as human beings or are only worried that future generation men will not have enough slaves to marry (and f*** with). I don’t see the point of forcing parents to give birth to unwanted girl children, if the parents are going to abandon them/ sell them to a brothel/ ‘marry them off’ before even they reach adulthood: basically if parents are going to deprive them of human rights anyway. If the objective is to produce more girl children so that more men can be served, without taking into account that girls/women are human beings with their own wishes, aims, aspirations and dreams which don’t necessarily align with serving her husband (or even having a husband), I can hardly empathize with this attitude. I think if we as a country/society cannot give women freedom and dignity which are rightfully theirs, we have no right to ask for more women to be bornIt’s like masters allowing slaves to reproduce so that their children will in turn become slaves. I am not saying we shouldn’t have campaigns against female feoticide, but everyone of those should mention that all human rights apply to girl children apart from being just born. These campaigns cannot isolate gender inequality from female foeticide.

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173 thoughts on ““I don’t see the point of forcing parents to give birth to unwanted girl children.”

  1. This is what I have been saying for years. The law prohibiting abortion of female foetuses is an abhorrence because once again, it is controlling female bodies. If women feel they will not be able to give a good quality of life to their daughters, they really should have the option to not give birth to girls. It is only when parents are themselves educated on this issue would they choose to have daughters and raise them to be productive and independent human beings. And until that happens, why should we bring more girls into this world just to live in utmost misery?

    I have also noticed plenty of billboards against female foeticide and most of them were about stuff like “where will your son get a wife?” and “poor little boy has no sister to tie him a rakhi”. Ermmmm, who the hell cares?! Women are lacking basic human rights in many aspects of their lives, and these people are worried about marriages and a festival?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you really think women abort female fetuses of their own free will? Or do you think they are pressured by their inlaws and husbands – and often even tricked and coerced – into doing it?

      I don’t think women are 0% responsible for the decision, but I also think it is wrong to paint this as 100% women’s decision. It is not.

      So the ban on aborting female fetuses is not so much control of the female body, as it is the control over the gendercidal wishes of a whole family and community. Controlling them is a good thing.

      And in any case, isn’t the family and social pressure to commit gendercide more of a control of the female body (“we will brainwash/pressure/force/threaten/trick you into produce only male babies”)?


      • Nandini,

        It is control of the female body by the State, because irrespective of who in reality has the power over these decisions, it is NOT making the life of the woman easier.

        As for who is responsible for the decision, it can be both women and her family, or her family forces her into it. I have even known cases (rare, of course) where the woman herself hated having girls while the man didn’t mind. I wouldn’t buy your 0% and 100% statistics as they are just not backed up.

        Yes, family and social pressure is control and that is where we must point in our anti-foeticide campaigns, not put women already in trouble in more trouble. Also, have you considered that many of these women, once denied proper medical abortion, resort to unsafe abortions? Do we really want that?


        • > it is NOT making the life of the woman easier

          Sure, it is a 50-50 chance that this law makes the pregnant woman’s life worse or not. But she isn’t the only woman whose rights and liberties are at risk in this matter. There is also the lives of all the other women in the country to consider when we ask the question “should gendercide be legalized?”

          Gendercide has a huge impact on the rights of all the other women in country. We see states with the worst sex ratios backsliding in such an alarming way after steady progress in the years before ultrasound scans were available. Women in these areas now suddenly have less education, less economic participation, more oppression, more sex trafficking. Shouldn’t these women’s concerns figure in your calculations of who deserves protection?

          I know this does not fit very neatly in your individualistic model of the world. This is an example of a “tragedy of the commons” effect, for lack of a more appropriate term. The larger societal reason why gendercide is bad is the same as the larger societal reason why the genocide is worse than just mass murder. You have to look at the ways in which they affect the rest of the people who are still living, in order to see why they are extra-bad, deserving of an extra-special term.

          > Also, have you considered that many of these women, once denied proper medical abortion, resort to unsafe abortions?

          These women aren’t really being denied proper medical abortions. Abortion is easily available and accessible in India. There is truly no dearth of health professionals willing to break the law in our country. And in any case it is easy enough for women to just find a different doctor who does not know that they have found out the sex, and get the abortion if they are so desperate.

          I advocate for the continued illegality of sex-selective abortions not because I think the ban will work in fixing the problem of sex selection, but because I think it is important for the government to take an official stance against gendercide, purely as a principle.

          The actual work of stopping gendercide belongs to activists and social reformers. Our government can’t do even the most basic things, how can it stop gendercide! But nevertheless, it would be just mindblowingly shameful for the government to say “meh okay we will let gendercide be legal”, right? A statement of principle is important. It gives activists and social reformers a starting point to do the real work from.


        • @Nandini,

          Women are not responsible for society. Simple. If society needs to change, it has to focus on other factors, not on the personal choices of individual women.

          Do you also advocate something like China’s one-child policy to control population? Rewarding or penalising people for their personal and private choices to achieve a larger social cause?

          Moreover, this sex selection ban and abortion has not worked at all. But that is actually besides the point. Even if it has worked, it is at too high a cost – the individual lives of individual women.

          I agree with you that the government needs to take a stand. The law needs to respect women, and find other ways to educate people on male/female equality and root out the cause of female foeticide, not ban women’s right to abortions.


      • A majority of the women may not be aborting female fetuses of their own free will, but that should not prevent the few who want to from having full control over their body.

        The solution is to ensure that all abortions are indeed with the consent and the intent of the mother. Not to take away their choice, because now these mothers would be carrying the baby against their own free will by force of the government.


      • “I don’t think women are 0% responsible for the decision, but I also think it is wrong to paint this as 100% women’s decision. It is not.”

        So how will you determine who gets to have an abortion and who doesn’t?

        I agree with Clueless–the aim shouldn’t be to limit abortions but to ensure that all abortions are with the consent and the intent of the woman carrying the fetus. But once again–how does one truly determine this? What right does the government have in deciding whether a woman’s making a free choice or not?


      • @Nandini,
        Who is going to ensure that a girl child who is born solely because of a governmental ban on female foeticide is going to have a decent quality of life?
        Even ‘wanted’ girl children in our societies have it relatively bad, so the fate of an ‘unwanted’ girl child is naturally going to much worse.

        I actually think female foeticide is a lesser evil compared to giving birth to an ‘unwanted’ girl who will possibly be sold/married off early/forced to bear babies at a young age.


      • If the family doesn’t want a girl child, they will mistreat, beat, and maybe kill the girl. They might also take it out on the mother.

        So, no, a ban on sex-selection is not a solution.

        What could work is if everyone practiced sex selection, with the more sensible, justice-oriented people selecting for girls.

        Of course those girls won’t want to marry the sons of the more closeminded families when they grow up, but that is those men’s problem. They will have to evolve or die out.


    • Well, there are actually a lot of reasons why a skewed gender ratio isn’t good for society, but the way a lot of those reasons are framed is always male-centric (good example with those billboards). Rarely is there ever a billboard against female foeticide that says, “Raise your daughters to be good, independent thinking, successful individuals, because our society needs more of those.” It always has to circle back to relate to how it affects men some how, because the belief is that women will never be “given equality from our overlords” if we don’t pander to them. Never mind the fact that equality is something you don’t wait to be “given”.


  2. You’ve brought about quite a new perspective on this issue.
    I think the efforts on the whole, are on changing the perspectives of having a girl child.
    She can study, do well, work, etc.
    Plus making the laws implementation stricter.

    Having said that, I really want to know what other’s have to say.


    • The single biggest reason female foetuses are aborted is because of our male-centred marriage customs.

      Consider this: Two couples become parents on the same day, all other socio-cultural-economic factors being the same. One has a daughter, the other a son.

      If they are middle-class parents, they will invest approx, the same time, money, effort, emotion and love in raising both a son and a daughter.

      The big kicker comes when their children get married. Assuming their kids marry an educated and employed spouse, what do you think will happen?

      The son’s parents get a (free) DIL who works and contributes to the family kitty. IN ADDITION, she provides free, lifelong, house-keeping service, elder care, children, compulsory respect, affection and care (she a DIL, it’s part of the JD).

      What do the daughter’s parents get when she gets married? They get a son-in-law whom they bow and scrape before. Their daughter’s in-laws to offer regular doses of insults and put-downs (aapki beti ko sanskar nahi hai). They also get to spend a big chunk of their savings on a lavish wedding to keep the in-laws happy. Every year, they hesitantly spend a few days in their married daughter’s home, eternally grateful that her husband ALLOWS it.

      Last year, the daughter’s father underwent surgery and was over the moon, because his son-in-law called to ask about his health. Never mind that his wife (their daughter) is nursing and bathing his own ailing mother. She’s a DIL you see.

      Never mind that the husband’s parents are entitled to lifelong care and support from their daughter. Never mind that the daughter’s parents have no such rights.

      WHO in their right minds would want daughters when it’s such a bad deal?


  3. Point Well Raised.

    but if there is freedom to abort,legally, will there be enough female population to joined hands to raise issue about gender inequality???

    Frankly you are not expecting male population ( which is apparently deemed & propagated as direct benefactors of gender inequality ) will take a note that there wont be enough slave to serve?


    • Moreover giving birth to a child is less of a financial decision and more of a social decision at least in India.

      A newly wedded couple is not spared by so called well wishers ( includes parents et al.) till they don’t get one child in their hands.


    • I am expecting women AND men to fight for equality here. We need to change everyone’s mindset. We need to bring up our girls AND boys better. Let us not taint all men with the same brush – there are good men and bad men, just like there are good women and bad women.


    • “but if there is freedom to abort,legally, will there be enough female population to joined hands to raise issue about gender inequality???”

      What makes you think most women want to fight?


  4. I think the law is required and along with it society’s mindset needs to change. At this stage both has to be done.. I shudder at the thought of legalized sex selective abortion. Once basic things like considering a girl child as a human being is in place then it might be immaterial whether the law exists or not..


  5. It is ironic that the solution they came up with to “protect” female fetuses is to take away the rights of a women w.r.t her own body. Irrespective of why I am doing something, I should still be able to choose what happens with my body. If I don’t want my body to be the incubator for social change, then I should have every right to back out.

    There are much more effective things government can do to help boost the falling gender ratio – access to education for all kids, support centers for women who have been abused because they refused to abort a baby. Instead we have now created a whole new underground market for illegal ultrasounds.


  6. I’ve thought about this … if the parents are so against having a girl child, then why bother?!

    But then… that mentality needs to be changed as well. It isn’t just the abolition of female foeticide that is required, it is the thought process behind what prompts the abortion that needs radical change.
    People should *want* to have females.
    But it’s not easy… and while that is being worked on (which will take a helluva lotta time, from what I can see), if we just let all the female foetuses be aborted, there will be an even more skewed ratio of men: women, and then it’ll be more rapes of women, more selling off of women for money etc.

    No matter what the ratio is, it’s never in the girl’s favour. Cos Indian society has no respect for women as human beings.
    Only if that attitude is changed can anything significant happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I disagree vehemently, I think the law against female fetuses getting aborted should remain. Here’s why.

    1. At the root of it all, we should not be supporting anybody’s right to kill female babies and female fetuses on the basis of gender. This is gendercide. It is wrong for the same reason that genocide is wrong. Would you think it’s okay for well-meaning Germans to start killing Jewish children in Nazi Germany to spare these children the horror of the gas chambers? What about if Germans started aborting Jewish people’s pregnancies, would that be okay? Would it have been okay for Jewish communities to start pressuring all Jewish women to abort their pregnancies because all a Jewish child will experience is suffering in the Nazi world? I say NO. Our humanity is affirmed by a commitment to making our children’s lives as good as possible, not by committing genocide or gendercide. There is no such thing as a benevolent gendercide. Gendercide is always morally abhorrent.

    2. Making the abortion of female fetuses legal will increase the number of female fetuses getting aborted. While this may not hurt the aborted fetuses, because nothing can hurt the dead, it greatly hurts women who are still alive. The fewer the number of women, the greater the commodification and oppression of existing women. The greater the number of foreign women traded as sex slaves or shared brides in our country. The worse female literacy rates get. The greater the number of children each woman is forced to produce to make up for all the vanished women who are not having children. This is one of the effects of gendercide: the lives of LIVING women are made hell by it. Making gendercide legal is one of the best ways to ensure the continuing and worsening oppression of women in India.

    Instead of advocating or supporting gendercide, we should be fighting for women’s rights like we always have been. The fight might seem very hard and very demoralizing sometimes, but that is no excuse to support and condone gendercide.


    • 1. Abortion is not ‘killing’. You are confusing it with infanticide, which means killing babies. No one had the right to kill young Jewish babies but at the same time they really had no say if Jewish mothers decided not to bring any children into the world.

      2. The point is that this is an ineffective and intrusive law. The govt. should be putting in efforts to eradicate the source of the problem, not just dabbling lotions at the symptoms. I understand the concerns about fewer women overall, but that does not mean we tamper with the individual rights of individual women.


    • @Nandini

      All of your arguments sound valid. And are indeed basic human rights. Except that law does not recognize the fetus as an individual unless it is born, so it cannot be subject to human rights because in that case ANY abortion would be wrong and illegal.

      From my point of view, the woman in question has never had any control over her body. First it was her ILs and spouse forcing her to undergo an abortion and now it is the government denying her the right to information about what is happening in her own body and forcing her to carry the baby to term.

      Bhagwad wrote an excellent article about how the law should aim for the ideal – not try to navigate around social “realities”. The same is true here. While it is terrible that female fetuses are aborted just because they are female, just preventing their abortion is not in any way ensuring their later quality of life.


    • “At the root of it all, we should not be supporting anybody’s right to kill female babies and female fetuses on the basis of gender”

      “Killing” a fetus is strong “pro-life” language – A fetus is aborted, not “killed”. Making the abortion of fetuses – male or female – illegal, is allowing the state to take control of the female body. Let’s say that a woman has reasons (valid or not, it’s HER CHOICE) to not want a baby. Should she be denied an abortion because her fetus is female? Should she be forced to carry the fetus to term and give it up for adoption for the greater good? How is a forced pregnancy not slavery?

      Women have always been told to put others before them – Now it is “Carry your unwanted pregnancy to term because a female child will better the gender ratio, and make life better for women”. Thanks, but no thanks.


    • “Our humanity is affirmed by a commitment to making our children’s lives as good as possible”

      Only if we have, or want, children. Abortions are a last line of defense against unwanted pregnancies, and have nothing to do with humanity, or lack of it.

      Comparing abortions (even gender-based ones) with genocide and other horrors is NOT doing the cause of female autonomy any favors. I agree with you when you say that we should be fighting for women’s rights like we’ve always been. And the very first step is to achieve complete autonomy on our bodies.


  8. A blogger friend I knew, once told me that she always wanted a boy child. And wanted to have just one child. It happened as per her wish, and she always thanks her stars for not letting a girl child taking shape in her womb. The reasons she gave me resembled the school of thought you presented! Some women secretly do not want girl children simply because, they don’t want them to face the hardships they faced as a girl and then a woman. Dead female foetuses are better than child brides and tortured prostitutes (arising out of poverty). Brides bought from Assam and Kerala for grooms from Haryana are classic examples of what Freebird wanted to convey!


    • “Brides bought from Assam and Kerala for grooms from Haryana are classic examples of what Freebird wanted to convey!”

      Except those brides are bought because of the skewed gender ratio in Haryana, which was caused because of sex-selective abortion.


  9. This has been my opinion for years. I strongly believe that laws banning sex selective abortion are counter productive and also violate the rights of people over their own bodies. A woman’s body is not the property of the state which can just be hijacked to for “social” causes.


  10. > It’s like masters allowing slaves to reproduce so that their children will in turn become slaves.

    This line really strikes me as truly horrible.

    Does this letter writer think that mass genocide of slaves’ children and fetuses should have been encouraged or condoned, be it by slaves or by masters? (Because remember: lots of female fetuses are aborted by MALE coersion.)

    Does this letter writer think the life of a slave is literally worth nothing? Does this letter writer not know of anything of value – not just to the world, but also to the slaves themselves – that slaves did in their lives? Does this letter writer not weep for the lives of the slaves’ babies who were lost? Has this letter writer read “Beloved” – do they celebrate Sethe’s crime?

    The way to fix slavery was not for slaves to stop having children, or be discouraged to have children, or for their pregnancies to be terminated. The way to fix slavery was to END SLAVERY.

    For people to justify terminating slaves’ pregnancies on the basis of how bad slavery is a classic example of victim blaming, and making victims change their behavior in order to avoid being victimized. In this case, it is taken waaay to the extreme. “You don’t want to be oppressed? Don’t be born!”


      • But nobody is taking away a woman’s right to choose. Abortion rights aren’t under threat in India at all, there is no danger of abortion being made illegal. If a woman does not want to have a child, she is free under law to get an abortion, and I fully support that — but only as long as she does not find out the sex of the fetus as female before aborting it!

        What no woman or man or person in India should be free to do is commit gendercide. No Indian should be free to abort a fetus just because it is female. This is not a universal principle: it only applies in countries and cultures where gendercide exists as a phenomenon. When gendercide exists, it is basic morality to say gendercide should be illegal.

        Think of this as free speech vs. hate speech. Imagine there was a society where people with blond hair were hated to the point of murderousness. In such a society, it makes complete sense to make a law saying “Nobody is allowed to write books or make speeches saying that blonds are less than human.”

        A person from our world would find that law to be stupid and a ridiculous restriction on free speech… and they would be right – but only because in our world nobody goes around murdering people for being blond.

        In a world where there was no gendercide, it would be stupid and ridiculous to stop people getting abortions for any reason. But in India? Gendercide exists. It is a HUGE evil. It must be stopped. And therefore it makes sense for gendercide to be illegal in India.


        • So if a woman is carrying a female fetus and she wants to abort, she shouldn’t be “permitted” to do so because it is “immoral”? I’m confused. How this this pro-choice? You impose your own standard – “as long as she does not find out the sex of the fetus.” What about if the fetus has a congenital disease AND heaven forbid, is female? What right does a 3rd party have to impose their own sense of morality on another independent individual? It boggles the mind. You morality is your own, don’t expect other to kowtow before it.

          A female fetus is no more or no less precious than a male fetus. Are you ok with someone aborting a male fetus? A woman’s body and her child, as long as it remains inside her body, is not the space to make a political statement, promote a social cause, or impose any other person’s standards of morality. Bodily autonomy must be absolute. You may sit in judgment, because that is your freedom and choice, but you may NOT attempt to control it by law.

          And you seem to be equating abortion with murder. Abortion is not the same as killing a human being – as per your example, for being blonde. It is the choice of a mother who does not want to give birth to a blond child for whatever reasons. Who gives anyone else the right to even suggest what the mother should do?


    • “In this case, it is taken waaay to the extreme. “You don’t want to be oppressed? Don’t be born!””

      You wrote exactly what I’ve been struggling to express. 🙂 Is this how oppression should be stopped, or even protested? By simply ceasing to live? Doesn’t that mean that the oppressors, well, that they win? =/


    • “Does this letter writer think the life of a slave is literally worth nothing? Does this letter writer not know of anything of value – not just to the world, but also to the slaves themselves – that slaves did in their lives? Does this letter writer not weep for the lives of the slaves’ babies who were lost? Has this letter writer read “Beloved” – do they celebrate Sethe’s crime?”

      That’s what you got out of the whole thing? No, the LW doesn’t think that the life of a slave is worth nothing. She was using slavery as an example to illustrate a point. I do not see the LW as condoning slavery in any way. This kind of vehement self-righteousness does nothing to add to your point.

      I agree with Nisha–taking away a woman’s right to choose isn’t quite the same as ending slavery.


      • I don’t think I misinterpreted the LW’s intentions. The letter writer goes on at great length describing how the life of the girl child who is born will be full of pain and completely not worth living. For instance, this line:

        > the parents are going to abandon them/ sell them to a brothel/ ‘marry them off’ before even they reach adulthood: basically if parents are going to deprive them of human rights anyway.

        I really do see the LW’s point, and I understand it was not their intention to say this. No decent person would intentionally say such a thing.

        But nevertheless, this is the underlying, unexamined assumption hiding behind the LW’s words. It is clear as day that the LW unconsciously has assumed that the lives of these girl children would be worthless and full of pain and no redeeming value, just as the lives of all the slaves were worthless and full of pain and no redeeming value. Without this assumption, they would not have made the statements they made. I think this is worth pointing out.


        • Nandini,

          There is no need to attack the “decency” of the letter writer. Her opinion comes from a space of deep compassion and understanding of human suffering. You’re unable to really see or appreciate it.

          Some people think that it is ok and even desire to bring a football field full of children into the world, some others believe that this rotten world is not a suitable place for their precious children and therefore spare them the misery of having to live here. They are both diametrically opposite points of view, and both sides are well within their rights to hold that view. Just because you bring children into this world, you don’t automatically become more decent than those who choose not to have them. You have to look a little deeper, beyond the veneer of self-righteousness, to understand the depth of compassion of people on the other side.


        • @ Nisha and @Kay, please read more carefully. I did not attack the decency of the letter writer. I did the opposite – I said I am sure the letter writer could not have intentionally made these assumptions (that the lives of girl children and slaves are worthless), because no decent person would. You understand? I explicitly said I think the LW is a decent person.

          Further, @Nisha, where did I say people who have children are automatically more decent?


  11. Umm – Punjab / Haryana as an example of what happens when sexual selection looks attractive?

    However, agreed that banning sex selection is way less effective than actually reducing the incentive to do so. However, that needs wider societal change, which is slow in coming, plus has nothing to do with affluence. Gloablly education of females seems to be the most effective empowerment measure undertaken, however, our education systems are that amazing that educated women are all over this forum discussing familial pressures to conform to age old subjugatory practices. Not even considering the millions of women who never question the ‘system’ and are active enforcers.
    Real life example: Colleague with masters education abroad, as yet unmarried (not very young either) who believes that women should be ‘taken care of financially’ by their husbands even if working.
    When judges and NCW staff have such terribly conservative attitudes, how do we blame the larger society.
    Still change is coming, slow as it is, and hopefully things will be better for the coming generations.


  12. Female foeticide is the ultimate expression of gender inequality in a society.
    Banning it is akin to treating a deep seated disease with a superficial cosmetic solution.

    Ultimately, having large numbers of thriving and happy women in a society which treats them equally is the best advertisement against sex-selection and termination of female foetuses. History shows that with greater education, awareness and opportunity, most societies veer towards making less polarised choices.


    • > Female foeticide is the ultimate expression of gender inequality in a society.
      Banning it is akin to treating a deep seated disease with a superficial cosmetic solution.

      When someone is bleeding profusely, we MUST stop their bleeding first somehow. We must also rush them to a hospital to get proper treatment for the root cause of their bleeding, but it is important to stop the bleeding first any way we can. If we just say “eh, stopping the bleeding is just a cosmetic solution, we must treat the root of the problem” , they will just bleed to death on their way to the hospital.

      Gendercide is an urgent problem. We have to stop half a million girls beign disappeared every single year in any way we can. Sure let us also try to address the root of the problem, but we can’t just let India bleed to death while we do that.


  13. Interesting viewpoint.
    Got me thinking.
    I haven’t formulated any opinion yet.
    For now, I will follow the comments of others.
    I look forward to a fruitful discussion.
    May be I will be able to have an opinion on this issue.


  14. I think we should be able to do what we want with our bodies. If I want only girls I should be able to have them, if I choose to abort girls then my choice should reign.

    I wanted a daughter badly, but after twin sons I didn’t think we could deal with more kids. Not a financial issue but a lifestyle and career one. So in my case when I so badly wanted a girl I should have been able to selectively decide what sex I wanted.

    In short I think we should allow free abortion, if one doesn’t want a girl so be it , if one doesn’t want a boy so be it. Choice should be with the individual carrying the child. Not the govt. if that skews the sex ratio, it will skew back later, or not.


    • Radha,

      Please read your comment once again particularly the second para.
      The typing has gone haywire in some parts.
      Did you type this on your cell phone? Autocorrect may be the culprit.
      Autocorrect can be a nuisance sometimes.
      It has caused me a lot of embarrassment before.
      I always check before hitting Send whenever I type on a cell phone with a cramped keyboard.
      I could make some intelligent guesses of what you intended to type but “badly wanted airline” had me flummoxed.
      I suggest you type your comment once again and request IHM to replace your present comment.



  15. I have mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, I strongly believe in reproductive rights. No one and no government should tell me what to do with my body. On the other hand, how much of a say do these women have in these abortions? It is likely that these female infanticides are the family/elder’s decisions. In that case, the question of reproductive rights doesn’t apply. Instead it becomes gendercide with close parallels to genocide.

    Another thing to consider – a society with fewer and fewer women can become an even more dangerous society to women, especially in countries like India, where women are not seen as human with equal rights. The objectified woman become even more objectified as her numbers decrease. This is captured in Manjula Padmanabhan’s book, “Escape” about a fictional world where women (for the most part) have ceased to exist.


    • There is already a law that forbids determining the sex of a foetus and then acting on it-the PNDT act.
      So we live in a society that has banned female foeticide for 20 years and it’s clear that it is wholly ineffective (like the law banning dowry).

      Thus, removing this ban will NOT increase the number of sex selective abortions
      which are clearly rampant even with the ban in place.
      Keeping the ban also doesn’t seem to be changing anything.

      A social problem is solved by social solutions. Legal solutions are never preventive, they will only be punitive.
      An example of a social solution is to incentivise having girl children and educating them like the Balika Samridhi Yojana.


  16. Nandini,
    As a fence sitter, I found your arguments pretty convincing.
    I am veering around to your point of view.
    Unless someone else can “veer” me back again.


    • Let me have a try.

      Don’t you think that the State control of women’s bodies is simply what the ‘traditionalists’ have been doing all along? The government should be empowering women, not taking away what few rights they have in this society. Is the larger problem of fewer women something that should be thrust upon individual women? We created this problem by superficial solutions. First, for population control, the government started campaigning for women to abort female foetuses and now to control gender imbalance, they have banned gender selective abortion. This sort of control by the State is extremely frightening.

      This also gives the impression that they are actually doing something about this problem when in fact, nothing is being done. Are we educating young girl children on their rights? Do we have gender equality classes in social studies or even moral science in school? Do we have public education campaigns that focus on women’s right to choose and her individuality? Do we speak against emotionally blackmailed arranged marriages and babies? Does the government encourage men to share household work through public service announcements? Do we, as a society, encourage looking at women as individuals, rather than as wives, daughters, and mothers? If we have to ban something, do we ban Ekta Kapoor serials and misogynist Bollywood films? Do men undergo awareness training for public services like police, politicians, etc.? Nothing that would actually help in solving the problem is being done, except what has always been done – control of female bodies.


      • Fem, I don’t think you can call a ban against gendercide as “control of women’s bodies”. There isn’t any attempt to control women’s bodies here, because abortion in general remains legal, affordable, and accessible to Indian women. Our givernment is not trying to force women to give birth if they don’t want to.

        What our government is trying to do is force everyone to stop discriminating on the basis of gender when they decide who deserves to be born and who does not. THAT is what’s illegal, and rightly so.

        If you are a business and looking to hire employees, it would be wrong for the government to say you MUST hire this person even if you don’t want to. But it is perfectly correct and necessary for the government to say you cannot discriminate on the basis of gender when hiring. Would you call anti-hiring-discrimination laws “scary government control”?


        • Why do you need a new law to ban abortion of female fetuses, given that sex determination is already illegal?

          No one here is advocating gender-based abortions – there are already laws in place to address this. ANY law that dictates when abortion can and can’t be done IS scary government control.


        • I would rather that my body is not compared to a business company set up for the purpose of earning profits. Really?


        • It’s hard to know how to make my argument without drawing very convenient conversation-terminating objections getting misapplied to everything I am saying.

          There are people invoking Godwin’s law and getting very outraged that I am exaggerating when I, like every academic and activist actually studying/working on this issue, describe gendercide as comparable to genocide .

          If I try to give a nonliteral metaphorical ANALOGY using businesses, you are outraged that it reduces women’s bodies to businesses.

          Others are mocking me for being annoyingly self righteous when I say 50 million missing girls and women is an atrocity.

          So… bald statements of fact are unacceptable, comparisons to comparable phenomena are unacceptable, analogies involving less serious things are also unacceptable…

          It’s becoming clear that you’re just not interested in dealing with the substance of what I am saying, but instead are trying to shut me down by attacking the manner in which I express it.


        • Nandini,

          Nobody is denying the seriousness of the situation. We are all in the same boat and we UNDERSTAND where you are coming from. We just disagree with your method of dealing with it. Curbing individual rights is NOT a solution for the greater good.


      • Oh and as for the objection of “giving the impression of doing something” – eh, I am much more cynical than you are, I think, because I do not expect or trust the Indian government to fix any of the gender issues in India.

        All I expect is for them to take a stand in principle. It’s just a basic humanitarian requirement that our government should say, “yeah, no, gendercide is wrong and unacceptable.”


      • Hi,
        Forgive my ignorance, but did this really happen? “First, for population control, the government started campaigning for women to abort female foetuses ”

        I only know of the campaign which promoted family planning(two for two).

        I agree with your main point. This is indeed state controlling female choices. But again, aren’t their bodies always controlled? Do you really think women will have control of their bodies if this law is taken out? In fact, this does not matter at all. Indian women, except a few, are not entitled to their wishes or choices anyway.

        The solution would be to refocus the campaign to develop female population as independent working women and retain the anti- female foeticide campaign to ensure that the female population ratio is maintained.

        I agree with Nandini. This is planned gendercide. Not collectively planned, but individually.
        And reproduction can never be like supermarket shopping, where we can get what we want.

        Most of the comments pointed out to the bad state of women in India. I agree. But we cannot improve that situation by deciding not to give birth to females.


      • Well said, Fem. This law will be about as effective as sticking plaster over a severed artery.

        GVji, not only is this law going to do NOTHING about existing gender imbalances, it will take away what little rights women have over their bodies. The state has no right to dictate what women should and shouldn’t do with their bodies. How is this any different from banning us from pubs after 10 PM, or telling us what clothes to wear?


  17. I’m not quite sure what to think. On the one hand, I want to agree. On the other hand, there are inherent social reasons WHY female infanticide is wrong. Especially in a society like ours, where discrimination is so rampant. We’ve seen, and continue to see, what happens when we have a society with such a skewed gender ratio. People don’t attempt to make life easier for women. It doesn’t inspire any sort of change towards equality. Rather, the same unequal attitudes continue to reign. And what winds up happening is that the women who grow to adulthood suffer even more as a result than they would if the gender ratio was 1:1. “Withholding” women, as it were (is that even the right term for it, I don’t know) doesn’t inspire any change for the better. So if things are not going to get any better, and gender selective abortion is not criminalized and is allowed to continue on this basis, then, well, where is it going to lead?

    People seem to think that in order for society to change, we have to wait around for the men in our society to become benevolent and supportive of feminism. That’s not true. Feminism needs women. It is sustained because women exist. If fewer and fewer women are being born, change is not going to happen at all. And if change doesn’t happen, sex-selective abortion will continue to occur. It feels like it could very well become a negative feed back loop for the future, and that doesn’t bode well.


    • One other thing to add is that women who have sex-selective abortions do not have them because they feel like their girls will be raised in a bad society. They have them because they are girls, and they feel that girls are not equal to boys and won’t give them the same “return” for their investment. Isn’t this why we protest sex-selective abortion? Because of how it views women? Because of how it views the capabilities of women? From my experience and what I’ve read, there aren’t many women who have such abortions because they feel like they are saving their girl children from a “sad future”. They do so because they simply believe that girl children are a waste of valuable resources. Isn’t THIS what we protest when we talk about sex-selective abortion? This view?


    • The argument that more women means a better life for all women doesn’t make any sense.

      Even with female foeticide, and female infanticide, the absolute number of women in India is probably half a billion. 587 million, to be exact.
      That’s a multiple of the entire population of the USA!

      Doesn’t change a damn thing.


    • Feminism is not merely a movement for equal rights for women, it is much broader than that because it strives for equality of every individual. Men need not be afraid of or against feminism, because it is not anti-men, rather it is against an outdated social structure that forces men and women into inflexible stereotypes which, by its very nature, deny individual freedom to make a real choice without fear of social backlash for having made that choice.

      “Boys don’t cry” is just as damaging as “girls are weak.” Feminism needs human beings of either gender. Humanity is the criterion for inclusion into the movement, not whether you tick the Male or Female box.


  18. I find it surprising that people who argue for female foeticide ban also seem to hold the misguided belief that they are pro-women’s rights. Any law that prohibits a woman from making a choice about her own body (whether it is for the greater social good or not) is regressive. Why not ban contraception too along with abortions? Unlimited breeding plus abortion ban should be the solution to all problems eh?


    • Yes, this bothers me too. Why should a woman make a decision for ‘the greater common good’? Why this unfair expectation on a woman? A woman may want a boy/ not want a girl for a multitude of reasons- reasons which have everything to do with the screwed up society we live in, reasons which are obvious to everyone in the country. Changing the society so that those reasons go away is more important that being in denial about why women make those choices.

      Individual reasons have far-reaching social consequences, that is inevitable, but social consequences should only become a factor in an individual’s decision if that is something they want to factor in. It should not be the LAW to take sex ratios into consideration while having a baby.


    • I think you’re looking at this with a perspective that is too “western”. In a lot of western countries, abortion rights are under strong attack. In their case it makes a lot of sense to be concerned about any infringement on this right.

      Not so in India. Women are by and large able to freely access abortion for any reason in India, and this has been the case for a long time. Abortions are cheap and contraception is given away for free, with government campaigns practically begging families to use it. There is no credible political movement in India to outlaw abortion. There is no movement in India to take away contraception. We are a country which has actually had the OPPOSITE problem: the state has tried to stop “undesirable” people having children by forcibly sterilizing them, rather than force people to have children by denying them contraception and abortion.

      So please, let’s not look at this issue with western eyes and suggest that the ban on female fetuses has anything to do with the government legally curbing women’s right not to have children. That is just not a problem in India.

      In India the problem is wholly different. We have 50 million girls missing from our country who should exist but do not… because we are a country that commits gendercide against women.

      Any government that sees this happening cannot sit around doing nothing about it. At the very least the government must take a moral stance and say “YEAH OKAY GENDERCIDE IS ILLEGAL.” That is literally the least they can do in the face of an atrocity of this kind.

      How can we call outselves pro-women’s-rights if we cannot even say that gendercide should be illegal?? It’s like saying we are pro-equality but for some reason we think genocide should be completely legal.


      • Nandini,

        Again, abortion and genocide are not the same thing. If you formulate your arguments from that flawed premise, we aren’t really talking about the same thing.

        I’m not looking at the problem with a “western” eye. Funny how any argument that is for individual rights is automatically clubbed into the evil western category. Are Indians are pre-ordained to relinquish their individuality because Indian culture is *better* than western?

        If abortion is freely accessible in India, we should be glad that in that way we definitely are better than the west. Let’s not aspire to control or limit that accessibility for whatever reason.

        It is up to the mother and ONLY the mother to decide if she should bring that child into the world, regardless whether 50 million girls are missing or not. That politics is not yours to impose on her, let her decide. She has her own brain, so she is eminently capable of making that decision on her own.


        • Abortion and genocide are not the same thing. GENDERCIDE and genocide are the same thing.

          You’re making the mistake of thinking of genocide as merely mass murder. But that’s not what genocide is. The act of discriminatively eliminating only people of a certain race is what sets genocide apart from mere mass murder. Many genocides in the history of humanity even have a large non-murder component: members of the genocidal race often forcibly rape and impregnate the women of the victm race in order to eliminate that race, as part of the genocide. Rwanda and Bosnia are recent examples of this. Another component of genocide is when children of the victim race are stolen from their parents and forcibly “integrated” into the genocidal race, so that they lose the victim race loses its history and culture and has no choice but to assimilate into the genocidal race’s society. We see this happening to Australian Aborigines and Canadian/US Inuit and Native Americans in recent years. See? Genocide is different from just mass murder. It is the deliberate elimination of races and peoples.

          Gendercide in India is the deliberate elimination of women. It is absolutely comparable to genocide. I do not call sex-selective abortions mass murder, because they are not murder. I call them gendercide – as do most academicians and sociologists who talk about gender ratios in India. You have a beef to pick with the term being used? Just know that the entire field of experts actually studying and working on the issue at hand disagree with you there.

          In any case, the ban on sex selective abortion does not deny the right to abortion at all, it only denies the right to sex discriminative abortion (i.e. gendercide). It’s an anti-discrimination law, not an anti-abortion law. Would you be so set against anti-discrimination laws applying to employers in hiring too? “Employers have a brain,” obviously, so they should get to decide whom to hire – even if they are discriminating on the basis of gender and caste and race and religion?


      • How do you think they’ll enforce this ban on abortion of female fetuses? Ask the pregnant couple if they’ve had sex determination done, and refuse to abort if so? Or do a sex-determination test and refuse to abort if female? Will you be ok with codifying the second as a law?

        How can you call yourself pro-women’s-rights when you are arguing so categorically against autonomy of the female body, and dismissing existing measures against gendercide in favor of a ban on abortion?

        And please don’t draw parallels of genocide and female reproductive rights – THERE IS NO COMPARISON. It’s not helping your argument, and it makes for reading that turns the stomach.


        • “And please don’t draw parallels of genocide and female reproductive rights – THERE IS NO COMPARISON.”

          Absolutely. I cringed at the Nazi comparison–apples and oranges. I didn’t expect to see Godwin’s Law invoked on this website of all places.


        • > Ask the pregnant couple if they’ve had sex determination done, and refuse to abort if so?

          Yes, I suppose.

          > Or do a sex-determination test and refuse to abort if female?

          Absolutely not.

          The ban on sex selective abortions in India is aimed at punishing clinics rather than parents. The clinics that provide sex determination services, for instance, get their licenses revoked and fines levied. This is a good thing.

          There is in fact no movement to curb women’s abortion rights in India. Please stop being alarmist. Our access is safe. What’s in danger are the lives of girls and women who are alive, who are suffering for the gendercide comitted on female fetuses.

          > And please don’t draw parallels of genocide and female reproductive rights – THERE IS NO COMPARISON.

          Please see my comment above for an explanation of the mistake you’re making with this statement.


      • Nandini,
        I agree with your points.
        This is in-utero gendercide. Indeed, not the same as genocide, but certainly can be drawn parallels with. Females are undervalued, incompetent to provide for parents and a burden, so kill them in-utero. People are confusing this with real abortion rights.
        As you suggested, I don’t think there is any form of pro-life campaign in India. There are millions of abortions happening without being questioned. including the female foeticide. Does this give Indian women reproductive freedom and rights? Absolutely not. Here, this law neither gives, nor takes away any sort of control over their body. In fact, some of the women who want to have female babies, and not able to do so otherwise(due to family insisting on foeticide) are protected.
        As Nandini suggested, the western feministic argument is different and it is based on their context which largely does not bias against female babies being born.


      • Yes, the term is misleading if it is used to include abortions as well. From what I understand, you are equating abortion to gender-selective deliberate extermination of “persons” of a particular sex. A fetus is not a person, or do you disagree with that premise? Abortion is not the same as killing a baby.

        An individual woman choosing an abortion is not comparable to “deliberate elimination of women”. It is merely an independent person asserting her right to do what she wants with her body. How can you even imagine taking that right away from her?


  19. I know many women whose parents were disappointed by their gender at birth. I always wonder if they feel hurt by it. I know their was a celebration when my brother was born but not when I was. I have seen my aunt cry after the birth of each of her three daughters.

    This issue has deeply affected me. I don’t want male children. Whenever friends and family have female babies I love holding them, playing with them, cooing at them etc. With male babies I’m just indifferent.

    I’m scared that when I choose to have children I will most likely have boys. The thought makes me sick to my stomach. I know if I have a boy child people will congratulate me and celebrate because its a boy.

    I don’t want to be an incubator for an Indian male. I don’t want to give birth to a privildged Indian male. I know its not right but its how I feel deep down inside.

    I honestly don’t think I could love a baby boy. Maybe if its with someone of a different race because than my baby boy would be biracial and not an Indian male.


    • Honestly, I think you have a nasty mindset about this issue. How you raise your child depends a lot upon you. Hating on a baby boy is as bad as hating on a baby girl. They are BABIES, ffs! They come into this world on your choice and it is your responsibility to love and care for them. If you feel unable to do that, please don’t have them in the first place.

      The ‘Indian male’ does not exist. I know a few great Indian men who are active in espousing women’s causes. Our own Praveen, Bhagwad and GV, regular commenters in this blog are men who are Indian and yet do not automatically assume they are entitled.

      Also, perhaps therapy would help. You seem to have reached a place where you hate all men. That cannot be really very healthy.


      • But how a child turns out is not only on you. Children are shaped by their environment, pop culture, media, school, friends etc…

        In india there is privildge in being a man. He does no have to worry about his safety they way a women does which is just an example.

        I agree with what you said though. I said it in my original comment that I know its not right. But its how i feel inside, its not logical and i know its unhealthy.

        I have been thinking about therapy because i dont want to pass on my issues to a poor innocent baby if it happens to be male


        • I’d suggest leaving the country, moving to a place which allows sex selection and having the child of the gender you want. nothing wrong in that. If you think you cant raise a boy then dont have one. simple.
          It’s bad if you sit on the fence, cant take a decision, have a boy and cant raise him well.

          theraphy will help, but sometimes it’s just a choice, you may want something so badly that you cannot accept anything else. either make it happen or deal with it.


    • Nobody gives birth to “privileged Indian male”. Everyone is born as just babies waiting to be molded by the environment they grow up in. So no matter what the sex of your baby is, if you do not make the effort to raise them as people who respect themselves and can think for themselves, you will be upholding the system you are against.

      Change not only comes by empowering women, but also by empowering men to break from their stereotypes and see women as people.


  20. The choice of whether or not to keep a pregnancy must reside with the parents/mother only. For example,during a TIFFA scan(18 weeks) if one comes to know of any defect in the fetus that cannot be corrected, then what does one do? Bear the brunt of having an invalid child for the rest of our lives.NO! I will personally will choose not to bear that child. Let us say one accidentally gets pregnant say before being wedded,she should have the right to decide whether or not she wants to keep the baby or not.After all the mother is going to be physically,financially and emotionally responsible for the child.

    A relative of mine has 2 healthy children and accidentally got pregnant with the third.She and her husband decided to terminate the pregnancy because having the third one was neither emotionally nor financially viable. I support their decision.

    Unfortunately in Asian countries it is more of a social decision based predominantly on the gender. However, rather than producing a string of girls,who would be raised with neglect and persecution it is advisable not to have the child. Also tell me how happy are the boys born in a family with so many girls? The boy once grown is expected to shoulder the responsibilities of all the daughters in the house,and ends up having no life of his own. His existence also becomes an abject misery.

    If our government can enforce laws to make fetus sex determination as illegal,then they have to support this law by passing more policies that support a 2 -child family only,and laws on making abortion legal on medical grounds. This needs a lot of statistics and data to corroborate and create the policies.


  21. I want to clarify my viewpoint here. First of all, I am against sex-selective abortions. To my knowledge, any abortion is NOT illegal in India. But sex determination test IS illegal, even though doctors smugly conduct it on a routine basis, leading to sex selective abortions. It would suffice if this law alone is implemented seriously if our authorities are serious about eliminating gendercide. I have objections to a law which explicitly makes ONLY aborting female foetus as illegal. For all the talk about gender equality, how is it right to declare that only the life of a female foetus is precious than the life of a male foetus, so aborting male foetus is not punished but aborting female foetus is punishable?

    Secondly, I believe in reproductive rights, though I agree with the view that mass-scale sex-selective abortions lead to ‘gendercide’ as Nandini put it. This is why I am in favour of banning sex determination tests (which technically prevent sex-selective abortion from any gender, including the third gender) but I disagree with banning abortion of female foetuses alone due to the above stated ethical reasons.

    Nandini: //The way to end slavery is not to control the reproduction of slaves, the way to end slavery was to end slavery.// Exactly my point. The way to end patriarchy is not by controlling reproduction of women, the way to end patriarchy is to end patriarchy. I think you are getting me wrong. I am not giving ‘my’ viewpoint when I say slaves were allowed to reproduce so that they can have more slaves. I am saying that that is how masters looked at it. I am not endorsing this view. What I am saying is people who are worried about skewed gender ratio without caring about the inherent gender inequality in our society are only worried about their future sons not having wives to marry. These people don’t care about lives of the unborn foetuses or the lives and sufferings of the born women. I am saying female foeticide should be addressed comprehensively by simultaneously addressing gender inequality and giving out the message that women deserve all basic rights like education, financial independence and personal freedom (not just the right to be born) like everyone else.

    Completely agree with Fem and ‘A’: I think you understood me right. My bottom line is this: Female foeticide is a big issue, NOT because future sons will not find wives to marry and serve them. It is a huge issue because women are human beings who deserve all rights including the right to be born and the right to live a free, happy life like any other human being.


    • I think some clarification is in order here.
      First, there is no law which explicity bans female-foetus abortion.
      There is however, a law which bans sex-determination- which therefore indirectly makes it a law against sex-selective abortion.
      Since both the former hypothetical law and the latter actual law lead to the same outcomes, you technically cannot be ‘for’ one and ‘against’ the other.

      Second, sex selective abortions still happen despite the law. Do people on this forum who support this law (and want it strictly enforced) REALLY believe that jail terms for medical professionals will suddenly cause society to value the female sex more?

      No. The strict enforcement of this law will lead to women undergoing unsafe abortions. I’ve seen that. Or worse, lead to killing female babies at birth.Or abandoning them at the hospital. Seen that too, thrice.

      People determined not to have daughters will find a way to do so.
      The solution is not and is never going to be this law.


      • I agree, a law which bans only the abortion of a female fetus will result in unsafe abortions and might potentially endanger the mother.


      • desidaaru12, murder is a crime and there is a law against committing murder. But has that law resulted in a decrease in the number of murders ? No. So should we scrap the laws against murder ? Hmm.


        • Are you equating abortion with murder? Because that is some seriously wrong analogy.
          Also, I think emotional and over-the-top reactions to this debate are uncalled for.

          What is the problem? People don’t want to have daughters.

          As I’ve said repeatedly- EVERYONE agrees that this problem exists.
          It would be great if people could be honest and admit that the existing solution simply isn’t working. Atleast that will prompt us to look for a better one. Instead we want to debate this dead, ineffective excuse of a ‘solution’ ad nauseum.


        • 1. Murder is not the same as abortion.
          2. A law against murders does decrease the absolute number of murders. In other words, to prevent a problem,a sufficient deterrent must be in place.

          What is the problem being addressed here?
          People reluctant to have daughters.

          What has been the Indian government’s solution to this problem?
          The PNDT law.

          Has it worked?

          Should we debate or defend a ‘solution’ that hasn’t solved the problem?

          Shouldn’t we instead talk about other approaches to get people to have and cherish their daughters?


  22. This is an interesting viewpoint and I have to say I agree but how many women have complete control of their bodies in reality? Society/family determines who they will have sex with, when, when they will have kids, how many, what gender etc. In that case, would legaliziing gender selective abortion work?

    I agree. Our govt. should work more on
    -educating people by campaigns
    -our courts should look at cases according to law and not be passing moral judgement or giving examples of Sita or whatever. People want to divorce, let them.
    – We should modernize our law and make it on par with modern times and separate it from religion. Why do we have separate marriage/succession acts for different religions?
    – Make public spaces safe
    – Swift legal justice for crimes instead of dragging on
    – Not allowing our colleges/schools to have stupid discriminatory rules & overhauling the education system for gender equality

    instead of doing cosmetic solutions to solve deep rooted issues. What is the point of having several women on top when they do NOTHING for gender equality?


  23. I agree ! whats the point of having a female in family where they cannot respect her and make her life only hell. First family and social values need to be corrected , then there should be anti female infanticide / abortions laws be promoted


  24. I have been mulling over this for some time.
    It just struck me:
    Suppose, just suppose, it was possible with some pre-natal test to also determine if
    1)The child will be fair or dark
    2)The child will be tall of short
    3)The child will be intelligent or dull
    4)The child will be healthy or sickly
    And so on…

    Will those who opine that any law that prevents a woman taking a decision about her own body is regressive, also welcome it if the law permits the required pre natal tests for the above, and permits a woman to abort a child, male or female, if it does not pass the required specifications listed above?

    Just curious.
    Just where do we draw the line?


    • As someone who’s pro-reproductive rights for women, let me try and answer these questions.

      1)The child will be fair or dark—YES it’s the woman’s choice
      2)The child will be tall of short—YES it’s the woman’s choice
      3)The child will be intelligent or dull—YES it’s the woman’s choice
      4)The child will be healthy or sickly—YES it’s the woman’s choice

      There actually are genetic tests you can get done that may determine if the fetus has a genetic disease. As a woman carrying said fetus, it is absolutely my choice (whatever the choice may be based on) to decide whether I want to go through with the pregnancy. Most countries in which abortion is legal have laws that indicate specific timelines as to when you can get an abortion–that’s as far as I believe abortion laws should go.

      I have the same views on divorce–if person A doesn’t want to be in a marriage for as silly a reason as, say, his wife got fat, then it is absolutely his right to ask for a divorce.


    • Yes, the woman has absolute right over her body and whatever is inside her body, no matter what her personal criteria or moral point of view is. Others are welcome to impose their high standards of morality when they physically gestate. Otherwise, leave it to the woman to make the decision on where exactly to draw the line, please. No one else has a say.


      • Thanks Kay and Nisha for your replies.

        I suppose it is also your opinion that “the something that is developing inside the woman’s body” is the woman’s sole property and the man who cooperated in creating it has no say in the matter? What if the man has no issue with the “defects” revealed by a pre natal test and what if the pregnancy was also a planned decision by both?
        Would you still hold the same view?

        I may not have got fat but I have got old!
        I am not bald (yet) but my hair has turned grey.
        Would it be okay for my silly wife to demand a divorce for this reason?

        My wife can relax.
        She is still beautiful and she is not fat.
        Besides even if she were, I insist on being married to her for the rest of my life.



        • If that’s what your wife wants then yes. Point being, no one has the right to make someone stay in a marriage he or she does not want to stay in.

          So, the rule here is (repeat after me):

          1. Not my uterus, not my choice.

          Also–the law doesn’t look at the fetus as property (at least in the US and Canada, not sure about India).


        • GVji,

          I think you should be able to divorce for any reason, silly or not. If i cant stand my husband then i cant stand him . no reason should be required. moreover why would any body want to live with a partner who doesn’t want to be married to them?

          if i were to have a fetus with a defect and i didnt want it and my husband did, that would be a stalemate that we could talk out or when both refuse to budge. i would ask for a divorce, have the kid and hand it over to him to raise. or refuse to have the baby and he could ask for a divorce if he felt that was not agreeable.


        • “Nisha,
          I suppose it is also your opinion that “the something that is developing inside the woman’s body” is the woman’s sole property and the man who cooperated in creating it has no say in the matter?” – Yes. That’s exactly right. My better half may be a loving father but when something resides in my body and I am the one physically bearing gestation and delivery, I reserve the right to decide what happens to my pregnancy. Once you allow anyone except the woman herself to decide how to proceed, you’re treading the slippery slope of making decisions on behalf of an adult. Who is to say that the government won’t step in and say that the child may one day become a valuable tax payer and hence we won’t let you abort?

          “Would it be okay for my silly wife to demand a divorce for this reason?” – If she’s not happy with you for whatever reason, it’s absolutely okay for her to want to divorce. That doesn’t make anyone silly. Physical attraction may be a much bigger deal to one person and not to another. These differences between different people is what makes life interesting.


        • Even if the man has no issue with the defects, as the baby is growing solely in the woman’s body, it is her right to determine whether she wants the baby or not. The man is welcome to rescue the fetus and incubate it in a different way, but for now, we do not have the technology available to do that.

          And yes, anyone should be able to demand divorce for any silly reason – as long as they will comply with doing their bit for taking care of their children from the marriage and pay spousal support as determined by the law. We all have different expectations and thresholds for a marriage and we should not impose our levels on other marriages. And really, if your spouse wanted to divorce you because your hair is grey, would you want to stay in that marriage in any case?

          People have the right to be superficial and shallow in their personal lives as long as they are not breaking any laws.


        • GV, there is a difference between behaving badly and behaving criminally.

          Marriage should never be a compulsion. If your wife chooses to divorce you for the mere reason that your hair is now grey, she would be certainly shallow, but that is not a crime. Do you want to continue living with her in a marriage when you know she has fallen out of love with you, merely because the law says you must?

          To answer your first question, I second Kay and Nisha. There are already a lot of unborn foetuses being diagnosed with health problems and many times, people choose to abort for that reason.

          You have a point about the man being partner to the act, but all said and done, it is the woman who has to not only bear the brunt of a birth socially and financially, but also physically. So a man’s input might at best be minimum, in this matter. If a man has no issues with “defects” and the woman has, then the woman has the final say in the matter, because it is her body that is put to use in this matter, her 9 months + one year of life used up in carrying the baby to term and then breastfeeding and looking after it, her financial and career status that takes a backseat for this pretty long time period. So yes, it must be entirely the woman’s choice.

          Of course, I also support the other side of this issue, which is that men must not be forced to finance or participate in raising kids they never wanted in the first place. A woman, if she has choice, must also have responsibility.


        • “What if the man has no issue with the “defects” revealed by a pre natal test and what if the pregnancy was also a planned decision by both?”

          The baby may have been a joint decision, but the womb is still solely hers, and it is entirely up to her if she changes her mind about the pregnancy, esp. given that there were genetic defects found.

          What about care-giving for a special needs baby? Is it reasonable to expect a woman who does not want to go through with the pregnancy to take up an equal share (or in the Indian scenario, 90-95%) of the care-giving? Would it not foster resentment towards the (totally innocent) child?


        • No, the man has no say in the matter because he’s not the one physically gestating. The ultimate decision must be the mother’s. The husband and wife may discuss of course, but the veto power belongs to the person who has the uterus.

          And if your wife wants a divorce from you because of grey hair, it is completely her decision. Kay has no say in the matter, does she? People get divorced and also stay married for the silliest of reasons. Let’s make an attempt at least to not sit on the moral high horse and judge.


        • Dear GV,

          I read this blog out to my husband and we both actually came to same analogy as stated in your comment/s.There is a english film named ‘GATTACA’ which potrays a dystopian future where gene technology has enable selective DNA of an embryo to be implanted. There are pros and cons to this issue. Please bear with me here, since I have witnessed some children born with certain congenital defects and to see the pain they go through for treatments and subsequent therapy and still may not be ‘normal’ is heart wrenching.So I personally believe that using gene technology to avoid congenital defects is a great idea.

          However, as you stated above, I have come across parents who are unhappy about a toddler’s height. For god sakes, the babe is 4 and has years to grow.Some have issues with the child’s complexion.Oh I even had one who was asking me about thickness of the toddler’s hair and how to improve it and I almost fainted.So yes we cannot draw a line saying this is a defect and this is not.

          I have realized that in a bigoted society like ours no technology can ever be used judiciously or ethically.So as much as we have the technology to choose a healthy baby, our society will end up choosing all the cosmetic qualities and of course we have the gender preference.


    • This is getting more confusing and chaotic. I think female foeticide Vs. reproductive rights is a common point of conflict in all feminist discussions. Let me make it clear: I am against allowing any sex/race determining test during pregnancy. Women have the choice to decide whether they want to continue with a pregnancy or not – But the choice should NOT require information which discriminates the foetus based on the above. I don’t believe in abortion laws; But I believe in laws which ban tests on sex/race/other discriminatory info.

      Let me take an analogy and explain. An employer runs and owns his organization. So it is the employer’s right to decide how many people to recruit and whom to recruit based on capabilities/skill-sets required for the respective positions. So far this sounds good? At the same time, should employers be allowed to reject candidates, say based on caste/class/gender/race (or other social prejudices)? We do have laws in India and many other countries which mandate equal employment opportunity. These laws help fight social prejudices and systematic oppression. So far this sounds fair again? But we don’t see these laws as taking away the employer’s right to choose candidates, do we? The employer still has the choice of whether or not to employ and whom to employ, except that discrimination on criteria unrelated to skill-sets/capabilities is not permitted. I hope this is not a debatable point. So if we can understand this analogy, let’s apply the same to female foeticide.

      1) Woman has the right to decide whether or not to continue with her pregnancy. She also has the right to decide whether she should go ahead with a pregnancy or not. Reproductive rights are about this. (Employers’ right to have a choice of candidates). This is why I am against abortion laws.

      2) Woman does not have the right to discriminate life based on color/ gender/ etc. Sex-selective abortions are about this. (Like equal employment opportunity).

      3) The question is how do we prevent sex-selective abortions? By ensuring that sex-related information is withheld from the parents when they decide on whether to abort or not. Sounds simple enough? That’s all that is required to prevent sex-selective abortions. Implement the ban on sex-determining tests properly.

      4) Coming back to employer analogy, to fight social oppression, imagine a law which says any black employee should never be fired. Does this make sense to you? Why should black employees be given special privilege? What if a black employee ill-performs, or the employer cannot afford to keep that additional employee on pay-roll? Sounds biased against employers and other employees right? Now think of a law which says only female foetuses should never be aborted. Isn’t the bias against other foetuses clear here? This is what I wanted to explain – There can’t be a law which bans abortion of female foetuses only. If it is about life of a foetus being precious, all foetuses are precious then. But banning all abortions (or any abortion) is an intrusion into reproductive rights. I am against this too.

      I hope this analogy makes it clear enough.

      @Kay: I believe in reproductive rights but I don’t believe the foetus is the mother’s property. I don’t think mothers have the right to discriminate another life based on such criteria. I think when factors unrelated to mother, applicable only to the foetus are considered, then the decision to abort is no longer about reproductive rights. It then becomes about controlling another one’s right to be born. I don’t think mothers (or fathers or anyone) have right to decide what TYPE of human-beings should/can be born. They only have the right to choose whether they should give birth to the child or not, based on ‘their’ readiness and affordability to have a child. Otherwise we will become a dystopian world where we are all pre-programmed to automatically abort certain ‘types’ of human beings and ‘allow’ only one ‘type’ of human beings to be born. I have the same views on divorce as you do but divorce is not same as abortion.


      • The law doesn’t look at the fetus as property (and I don’t think it should in any case). Just the same as how the law doesn’t look at the human body as property–I can’t decide to sell one of my kidneys on the internet. The law, however, does allow for me to have agency over my own body in that I can choose to abort a fetus within an x time-frame.

        The reason for anyone getting an abortion is irrelevant. Why should someone else’s ethical boundaries decide whether one can get an abortion or not? I can understand outlawing sex identification with ultrasounds in a place where gender ratios are getting totally skewed. But, personally, I see nothing wrong with screening for genetic diseases (which is perfectly legal in Canada–not sure about India).


        • Kay the current law doesn’t. My problem was with a suggestion which singles out aborting female foetus alone as punishable.

          The reason for getting an abortion can’t be irrelevant. Discriminative abortions shouldn’t be permitted. Because there is no way in which the ‘reason’ can be determined, I think the most practical way of implementing this is by simply preventive measures which don’t allow parents to know the gender of the baby. No constraints on abortion (as it is, there are none in India legally and I think it should stay that way).


        • @Kay,
          India has a liberal abortion law that allows one to get an abortion fairly easily-no restrictive criteria in place. There are no legal restrictions against genetic testing .

          The only restriction is against finding out the sex of the fetus. The law forbids you to find out the sex of your baby and prescribes a jail term if a medical professional does so for you.
          This law has never really been strictly applied.
          If it had, it would cause more problems (namely just shilfting everything underground) while not serving as the solution it was intended to be.

          In 2003, the law was extended to cover pre-conceptional sex selection- so now even a couple with fertility issues cannot opt for a particular gender using IVF/other artificial reproductive methods.

          Personally speaking, the law can stay, as far I’m concerned. It’s not like it’s being actively used anyway, and doing away with it would lead to political suicide and accusations of abetting ‘gendericide’.

          On the other hand, what is desperately needed is an actual solution to the very real social phenomenon of families not wanting to have daughters. A solution that does not involve removal of bodily autonomy and restricted access to information about the fetus within you.


      • Freebird, I LOVE your analogy. I came up with the same one above. But I I am confused about just one part of it:

        Here: //Coming back to employer analogy, to fight social oppression, imagine a law which says any black employee should never be fired. Does this make sense to you? Why should black employees be given special privilege?//

        The law does not say “you cannot have an abortion if the fetus is female.” THAT would be the equivalent of “you cannot fire a black employee, ever, for any reason.” Which is clearly unfair.

        The law says “you cannot have an abortion just because your fetus is female” (and the way they determine the motive is they see if you have found out the sex of your baby illegally). This, IMO, is perfectly fair, because it’s like saying “you cannot fire a black employee just because they are black.”

        Am I understanding you correctly? Did I miss something?


        • You are right. My contention was about a suggestion which came up – This was to ban abortion of ‘any’ female foetus. I am fine with the current Indian law which makes sex determination tests punishable. An amendment to make abortion of any female foetus was suggested, which I think is firstly unethical and secondly does not serve the purpose.


      • Your rights are applicable as long as they don’t infringe mine. For example, you have the right to freely move about in your country, but you do not have the right to step in on my private property because that violates my right to privacy.

        Similarly, all laws about discrimination do not hold when it is my own body in question and what I want to do with it.


      • Comparing a private company to a woman’s body isn’t exactly apples to apples. A business organization is viewed as a quasi public entity and governments frequently regulate how they’re run, what safety precautions must be taken, pension issues etc etc. The consensus is that it’s ok to regulate a business for social purposes due to the “not strictly private” doctrine.

        A woman’s body on the other hand belongs to her and to her alone. It can’t be hijacked to cater to social causes. It doesn’t matter why a woman wants an abortion. If she wakes up in the morning and feels bored, she can have an abortion for that reason and no one has the right to stop her.


        • For all those who are vehemently advocating autonomy and freedom on sex-selection, I have this question:

          Why should a business organization be a quasi-public entity? Let’s look at private companies. Why should privately owned companies be accountable to the public or government? Why can’t employers do what they want when they are the ones who are paying and bearing profits/losses without giving two hoots about anyone else? Why should there be in laws in place which restrict this at all? As to doing what you want with your body, why can’t I sell my kidney?

          Because there are some things which ‘ownership’ doesn’t give you. When we endorse reproductive rights, we say that mere sperm contribution doesn’t entitle the father to decision right? Same way, there are some things which you can’t choose just because you’re offering your body for the development of another life.


        • @shallotandginger When it comes to abortion/keeping the baby, the father has no rights since it’s not his body. And he has no legal claim over what is not even a person yet either.


        • bhagwad, this is another example of how you contradict your own views as per your convenience in a different discussion. You had clearly stated in a comment on a post in your blog how a private business cannot be regulated by the government and it has the complete freedom to formulate its own laws. And now you not only contradict that statement but go on to say that it can be regulated as per social purposes. And you have always rejected the very concept of society in various discussions.

          “If she wakes up in the morning and feels bored, she can have an abortion for that reason and no one has the right to stop her.”

          If she wants an abortion because she is bored, she actually needs psychiatric treatment instead of an abortion.


      • @freebird Once again, it’s a false analogy. A business is nowhere near as personal and private as someone’s body. We have complete ownership and dominion over our bodies and that includes the right to abort. A business is way, way down the line of these attributes.


  25. why not give the girls up for adoption !! there are so many people longing for a child as they can’t get pregnant for some reason, those girl will get a good life and a good education and will be able to help their country of origin and maybe in time they can push for new laws, India urgently needs new laws but it will take time!!!!!


    • Maybe, but why should women have to undergo pregnancy to produce children for adoption if they have to lose physically + financially + career wise if they are not interested in the first place?


      • Then the Indian woman shold stand up and fight for their rights as European woman did a long time ago, we had no rights either, we were just breeding machines and slaves for the men and see where we are now ! But things like this take time they don’t happen overnight !


        • yes, they don’t happen overnight and they don’t happen by making women martyrs or making them continue a pregnancy to full term and making these unwanted kids available for adoption either.


        • no child should ever be unwanted ! that is the start of a lot of trouble pain and sorrow !!! India is a beautiful country with a LOT of problems and men are not going to solve these problems that is for sure !


        • Yes, we are fighting for our rights and that’s precisely why we are not willing to become baby factories to correct a skewed gender ratio, or to breed children to be given up for adoption.

          And you say that the “girl will get a good education and will be able to help *their country of origin*”. Surely you don’t suggest that the way forward is for Indian women to become breeding machines that produce children for childless European couples?


        • Ofcourse Indian women are not breading machines for other childless couples but an abortion is mentally very hard for the mother, knowing you killed your child….I could not live with the idea, not even if I knew that baby would be somehow handicapped. I do not condemn abortion, not at all, but personally I could not live with having an abortion myself, ofcourse I live in Western Europe and life is different from life in India.
          It is not up to me to tell other people what to do but personally if I could not keep my child I would have rather give it up for adoption than do an abortion.


        • I admire your willingness and courage to carry a pregnancy to term even in the face of congenital defects. However, not everyone may be as courageous as you are and it is unfair to take their choice away from them, no matter what their reason is.


        • You say – “men are not going to solve these problems that is for sure”

          You underestimate men. There are many intelligent, compassionate Indian men who are very strongly pro-choice and support women in their quest for basic human rights. Pitching men and women against each other or breeding more women are not how we achieve women’s rights.


        • Well India has been a lot in the news the last couple of years with men raping children and woman, so badly that they die afterwards, even groups of men raping one woman !!!! and men burrying life babygirls !!!So that’s why I think many Indian men are bad, not all ofcourse but many, can you blame me for thinking so after what we see and hear what is happening in India ? I meant no offence, this is just my opinion. I just feel sorry for most women in India, especially the aborted babies, thats all.


        • True, a lot of bad people around. Thankfully, some are good too. Some are good enough to restore one’s faith in humanity.


        • When I see the news on tv and I see all those wars all over the world, my heart breaks ! All that suffering !!! And war never change anything ! And ofourse there are good people too, more than bad ones !


  26. I’m pro-choice , and if i want to abort i dont think any govt should enforce it’s rule on me, I should be free to abort a girl, boy ,sick, viable ..any fetus.
    My body my fetus my choice.

    Sure it may skew the gender ratio , but i dont think people are that stupid either. It’ll be fine , if not we deal with it. I hate the fact that if i were in India i couldnt know the gender of my kids before birth. I have a son and a daughter, frankly the 2nd was an accident, i think one child is one too many in this already overpopulated world, but i wanted the first to be a girl. anyway so we decided to terminate the 2nd pregnancy, after a lot of thought decided that I’d keep the baby if it was a girl, thereby fulfilling my desire for a girl child .

    so I actually got amniocentesis done early to determine the sex. and yes was judged but then i dont really care for society’s opinion especially nosy Indian society. we didn’t want to wait for the ultrasound and risk a 2nd trimester termination.
    It was a girl so all is well but i dont think i would have had a single pang of guilt if it was a boy and would have gladly terminated. I have nothing against boys but having 2 boys simply didn’t fit in my plan for my life. we all have dreams and mine was to have a daughter – ( why i dont know – especially now when we are going thru the eye rolling and door banging phase 🙂 )
    but anyway if i wanted a girl and selectively decided to have one, why cant i do the same for a boy. everyone’s needs are different, irrespective of influenced by society, or whatever be th ereason, if I’m carrying a baby in my body, it is ultimately my choice to do as i please till the baby is born and becomes an ind .

    I thank god daily that i did not have to go thru my pregnancy in india . no govt should decide who can keep what gender child, it is simply none of their business.


  27. Okay. First things first, I think it is ridiculous to talk about a skewed gender ratio for reasons such as lack of females (=slaves) for males to marry. This was one of the reasons which SMJ brought up in the episode about female feticide.

    Secondly, and more importantly, a lot of people seem to confuse between feticide and abortion. Feticide IS NOT the same as abortion. An abortion is technically the termination of a pregnancy before the fetus develops sufficiently to survive (which is usually taken to be 20 weeks).

    Technically, an abortion should be done completely according to the pregnant female’s choice/decision (for whatever reason) BUT before 20 weeks after which it starts posing threats to the well being of the pregnant female herself (more than the ethical issue of killing a viable fetus). Thus, unless we legalize the practice of suicide, we cannot allow a pregnant female to risk her life by opting an abortion after 20 weeks.

    *** Also, it is absurd to equate abortion with feticide since many people here do not consider a fetus to be alive. Whereas, a fetiCIDE refers to a killing of the fetus (CIDE = KILL). So, how can you kill something that is not alive??? ***

    Suppose a woman opts for abortion having known that the baby is sure to suffer from Down’s syndrome. And then there is another woman who opts for a gender based abortion because she knows that she will not be able to provide a normal life to her daughter. Isn’t that equal to accepting and submitting to the prevalent laws of patriarchy? In fact, science is providing ways to tackle and prenatally treat disorders such as a Down’s syndrome. So why can’t we try to treat patriarchy itself rather than aborting females?

    Going beyond the technicalities of this issue, the people arguing for or against a woman’s choice over her body in case of female feticide fall into one of two assumptions.

    1. A woman opting for female feticide chooses so out of her own free will. (Even if that is due to the fact that she considers that a female child will not be able to have a normal and equal life as a male in the patriarchal society. [Can such a woman who submits to patriarchy be called liberated?])

    2. A woman opting for female feticide is forced/coerced/blackmailed into making this choice by her patriarchal family.

    What people don’t understand that the ground reality though being a mix of the above two assumptions, is neither the absolute of the above two assumptions. And in a highly patriarchal society like India, assumption #2 forms a greater majority of the two in reality.

    So, to think that all Indian females who opt for female feticide do it out of their own free will, and hence should be allowed to exercise their choice over their own body is rather daft.

    Of course, a female should be able to exercise her choice even if she does not want a baby of a particular gender. But that can only happen once the females of the society are empowered enough to make their own choices.

    It is only when any and every Indian female can make her own choices about what they want to do with their lives, whom to love, whom to marry (or not marry at all), where to live, what to wear and the likes, only then can we expect that they are really making their own choices about abortion as well. Then it wouldn’t be called feticide too.

    But till that doesn’t happen, then allowing gender based abortions would ultimately result in severely dwindling numbers of females with each generation in India’s patriarchal society. A time when there wouldn’t be enough females left to talk of feminism/equality itself. Not too clever an idea.


    • So the gist of your argument is that women are not empowered enough to make independent decisions, so to help them we will dis-empower them even further where they cannot make choices about their body?

      We all face social and familial pressures. Yet, each time we make a decision, it is ours and ours alone because we chose to give in to the pressure. Imagine a grown woman who murders someone and then claims it was not her decision because the family put pressure on her. Who will you convict irrespective of whether she was under pressure or not? Of course, threat of physical violence is acceptable as in the case of self defense, and thats it.


      • According to your logic, words like forced/coerced/blackmailed should not even exist. Because then anything that a person does will always be out of free will. Right?

        Please read my comment again where I clearly mentioned how a lot of women in India are forced/coerced/blackmailed into making choices regarding parenting/abortion.

        Your problem is that you assume that every choice that every Indian woman makes is out of her happy free will. If you really think that holds true, then I guess you have chosen an apt screen name for yourself.


        • And this very blog is the best example of how even educated and tech-savvy Indian women are not empowered enough to take their own decisions. If you haven’t seen the very next post, do read the letter from a common Indian woman. Perhaps you will get some clues about the state of women in India.


        • Firstly, trying to take shots at a person’s screen name is not going to earn any brownie points for your point of view. If anything, it further discredits you as a person who is not willing to have an open discussion.

          Secondly, yes, I have also agreed that many women face a lot of pressure from families to make decisions. But I disagree that the solution lies in completely taking away the decision making power from them. In that case, the state of the women still remains unchanged – at first family pressured them into decisions, now the government is pressuring them into decisions. They never really get a chance to think about what they want for themselves.

          To ensure that women can make independent decisions, we should work towards creating an environment for them where this is possible without serious repercussions.


        • I don’t know if just for the sake of argument you will continue to hold on to the opinion that all Indian females opting for abortions are doing so out of their own happy free will.

          Yes, there will be many empowered females who will actually make that choice irrespective of any pressures. But the reality of the situation is that such empowered women are negligible as compared to those who are controlled by their family. And as I said, this very blog is the greatest proof that even urban, educated and financially independent women in India are still being controlled by their families.

          Okay, they were being controlled by their families before (regarding abortions) and are now being controlled by the government. But doing away with the government’s control WILL NOT automatically make them empowered to make their own choices. It will simply give the power of control back to the families. At least a part of (even if a little) of patriarchy is being checked by such a law.

          So, as you rightly said that “to ensure that women can make independent decisions, we should work towards creating an environment for them where this is possible without serious repercussions”, it is better to take away the government’s control only after such an environment is created.


        • “doing away with government control will not empower them”

          So @Medusa, let me get this straight
          – government control does not empower the women to make their own choices
          – doing away with government control does not empower women to make choices

          Obviously, government is not making a damn difference!


  28. Typical upper middle class thoughts out of touch completely with anyone not like them. Yeah, why have these girls? Let’s just allow people to sex select and kill and deal with everything that comes after.

    So called modern thought that does not take into account all the ramifications of policy. Let’s just lose generations of girls like China and then wonder after the fact when it is too late. Of course people who don’t sex select and abort, who have daughters treat them all like queens? Or individuals with a brain and dignity?

    The whole point is that the girl child does not have enough human rights in practice. On paper, things are ideal – I mean, we have women as goddesses, we are a society respectful to women, right?

    If that child isn’t born, she has no chance of her rights at all. If we kill off those who protest, those who need to be treated equally, then we don’t have to treat anyone equal.


    • With your argument, you should be against aborting male fetuses too, otherwise you are the one who is doing gender discrimination – giving female fetuses the rights of a individual while denying the same rights to the male child.

      And it has been years since sex based abortions were made illegal. Have you seen any improvements in the gender ratio? Clearly it has gotten worse over the years – which proves that this is not working. People who want to abort female fetuses will also spend that extra money to get the under-the-table ultrasound.


      • No. You are out of the debate scenario. This law is specifically against sex-selection and abortion. It has been formed in a context where females are biased against, but I dont think you can sex-select and abort a male.
        Could some one with knowledge of the law correct this?


        • Sex selection is itself illegal and so are decisions made on the basis of this – whether the foetus in question is male or female.


      • Rape has been illegal forever too. It still happens. Shall we legalize it?

        I am pro-choice. The choice is to give birth and/or parent a *child*, not parent a boy or girl.


    • OK. May be I did a very bad job of putting my point. I have clarified my stances in the comments above. Please read.

      My mail was NOT about reproductive rights Vs. female foeticide. My mail was about WHY people are worried about skewed gender ratio. Are they worried because their sons won’t have wives to marry (and worried that patriarchy can no longer thrive that way), or are they worried because women are human beings? Most of the people who I have seen speak about female foeticide isolatedly, WITHOUT addressing the inherent gender inequality in our society, fall into the first category. Their objective is not to protect the girl child, only to protect patriarchal objectives.

      I have similar opinions on people who isolate sexual assaults on the streets from marital rapes.

      The main point which I wanted to convey was: Female foeticide cannot be addressed isolatedly without addressing the gender inequality in all other forms in our society.


      • Agree that it can’t be addressed in isolation. The fact that we’ve not enforced a ban of sex selection well enough is a major factor. Cracking down on only that consistently and throughout the country will have an impact. The issue isn’t that we don’t know what to do but that there’s no collective political or personal will to do it.

        If we could eliminate gender equality most of the time in most places, this time will go down in history as the turning point. Idealistic but necessary thought – pessimism will get us nowhere, in a hurry. Not saying you are pessimistic, this is a general statement.


        • Similar thoughts. It will take a while to get there. But meanwhile we should not be suggesting that females should not be born anymore because the living conditions for females is abysmal.


    • “Typical upper middle class thoughts out of touch completely with anyone not like them”

      It would help if you got off your high horse and actually explain what it is we are out of touch with. Pray explain, how is a ban on abortions of female fetuses any better/any more effective than a ban on sex-determination tests? What are we upper-middle-class-hence-out-of-touch women missing here? Do fill us in!

      PS: I consider myself “middle middle class” ,and resent the poorly done stereotyping. If you must stereotype, at least do it right! Ugh.


      • Who said anything about a ban on abortions? There is a ban only on sex determination tests and it isn’t effectively enforced, like all else in India.

        What are we missing here? Ground reality – that the people being forced to have these sex selected abortions have no power over their bodies. In a majority of the cases. So this talk about a woman having the power to sex select and abort is completely in thin air. I am pro-choice, so if the woman is truly making a choice without express or implicit coercion, I have no business having an opinion on it.

        High horse – no, comes from work in the field. Middle middle class is still pretty well off compared to some people whose families choose to pay the 2 – 3k to find out the sex but don’t afford to pay for anesthesia for the procedure (without the right equipment, it is still an old fashioned scrape, with infection being a very real danger to life!) to save money.

        Until we have mindsets that don’t need these preventive measures (two – three generations of empowered women is what this will take IF we have some women in these generations and we get them even semi-literate in their rights), these bans are needed and need to be better enforced. My efforts shall continue to be in the area of pushing for existing laws to enforced because without these girls, however unwelcome, there’s no chance for empowerment and solutions.

        Have access to a computer? You’re not middle-middle class!


        • “Who said anything about a ban on abortions? There is a ban only on sex determination tests and it isn’t effectively enforced, like all else in India.”

          The post discusses a hypothetical ban on abortion of female fetuses, which is what I (and others) were categorically against.

          Existing bans on sex-determination already provide (on paper, at least) deterrents towards gender-based abortions, and putting a new abortion ban in place only achieves more state control on female bodies.

          “Have access to a computer? You’re not middle-middle class!”

          I beg to differ. I work with underprivileged youth, and they have access to both computers and the internet – they can use, and troubleshoot issues with both. Let’s just stay away from blanket statements.


      • If you were to read versus shooting off, you’ll see that I am for sex selection staying illegal, the post here says, ‘it hasn’t worked, these children are born into families that don’t want them and otherwise take away their rights’.

        As for the middle class definition, anyone who owns more than 3 of 12 durables ( 5 recreational goods (e.g. tape players), 4 household good (e.g. refrigerators) and 3 transport goods (e.g. cars)) is not middle-middle class but upper middle class. The criterion for lower, middle and upper is 0.3, 3 and 6.3.

        My frustrated words had a definition and an academic reference behind it.


  29. A ban on aborting a girl-child is not something I would support. First, at the level of reproductive rights, I don’t think the state should tell me (or the father of my child) what I should do with the fetus. Second, from a practical stand-point, I feel the law would simply create a difficult emotional situation for a mother in a set-up where girls are not appreciated. Imagine the 9 month long censure she would have to bear for carrying a girl child. If the family doesn’t want one, why would they waste resources taking care of the mother, and later the girl-child?

    The skewed gender ratio is a result of cultural perceptions. I can’t think of an instance where laws in our country have enabled rigidly held cultural perceptions to change. In the context of this discussion, think about how we have a law to prevent sex-determination. It is poorly enforced and thus, sex-determination is rampant. I think in our country, the rule of law is not always been effective, so to battle an issue of social perception, giving positive sops would work better – like money on the birth of a girl-child, incentives for parents to put them through school, cash-transfers at completion of Std III, V etc. These positive sops cannot be a one-time state commitment. It has to be for a length of time to ensure that sufficient opportunity has been provided to this child to become a financially independent citizen.


  30. What I understood from various sources is that sex-selection is banned in India. If this is enforced, female abortion rights are protected ( as long as this is not based on sex selection).
    Majority of the folks have argued pro-choice. How does this law go against pro-choice concern? Pray explain.


    • A woman wants an abortion. The fetus is female. There is a law that bans abortion of female fetuses. Pray explain how this does not go against pro-choice concern?


      • How exactly does that happen? When the woman go to the clinic to get abortion, does the doctor scan to make sure that the foetus is male to proceed with the abortion??

        The only act against in-utero gendercide seems to be this one:
        Sex selection is covered under the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 2002. Originally, there was a Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, but due to the prevalence of pre-conception diagnosis, a newer law was put in order.

        The PC & PNDT Act states that no place or doctor is authorized to conduct pre-natal diagnostic techniques except for the purpose of detection of one or more of:

        – chromosomal abnormalities;

        – genetic metabolic diseases;

        – haemoglobinopathies;

        – sex-linked genetic diseases;

        – congenital anomalies;

        In fact, the MTP act has no mention of gender. However, the abortion is not given as a female right, but as applicable in exceptional scenarios.

        It also states that “no person including the person conducting pre-natal diagnostic procedures shall communicate to the pregnant woman concerned or her relatives or any other person the sex of the foetus by words, signs or in any other manner” and “no person shall, by whatever means, cause or allow to be caused selection of sex before or after conception”.

        Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1972, pregnancy may be terminated, provided certain conditions are met. It may be noted that medical termination of pregnancy can take place only in a hospital established or maintained by Government, or a place for the time being approved by Government. If the person is a minor or mentally unsound, no abortion can take place without the consent of the guardian.

        In all other cases, pregnancy can be terminated:

        Where the length of the pregnancy has not exceeded twelve weeks – if one registered medical practitioner.
        Where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twelve weeks but does not exceed twenty weeks – if not less than two registered medical practitioners are, of opinion formed in good faith, that—
        The continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or
        There is a substantial risk that if the child was born, it would have suffered from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
        The only exception to the requirements under the Act arises if the termination of a pregnancy is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, in which case, a registered medical practitioner may conduct an abortion at a place other than those specified under the Act, irrespective of the period of pregnancy.

        There is a statutory presumption that where the pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, or where pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of contraception used by any married woman or her husband for the purpose of limiting the number of children, such pregnancy is a “a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”, and therefore, in such cases, there is a statutory entitlement to abortion. Besides this, the Act also provides that in determining whether the continuance of a pregnancy would involve such risk or injury, account may be taken of the pregnant woman’s actual or reasonably foreseeable environment. However, this leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of the medical practitioner, and there is no legal entitlement to abortion. So, for instance, if pregnancy occurs due to failure of contraception by an unmarried woman, she cannot demand abortion as a matter of right.

        The major shortcoming of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act is that although it allows women to access abortion under certain circumstances, it does not provide the option of abortion as a right. More importantly, it does not provide for abortion as her right, granting a monopoly to medical opinion without any respect for the opinion of the woman who should be given the crucial right of choice making.


        • I stand corrected regarding “abortion rights”. According to the specified Indian law, Indian women are not entitled to abortion rights and therefore can be seen as not pro-choice.


      • @shallotandginger

        Well technically, the clause regarding ‘damage to mental health’ or ‘failure of contraception’ are used to obtain abortions. So the MTP Act per se doesn’t create legal hurdles to a termination, which is quite reassuring to Indian women.


  31. The first thing tat comes ro my mind reading this is parents saying daughters ” I at least have given birth to u / let u live. My ancestors would kill their daughters if they did the same thing” I had to listen to tis wen I was in high school n stood on terrace to see moon. Some family friend complained of this “shamefull ” act n I was reprimanded. I dint understand wat was wrong looking outside frm a terrace. . Its sick wen parents feel it is favour for having let the grl child live.
    Even the grls believe this. They r greatful bcoz parents let them study n so it is our duty to get married. . It is not a favour but a fundamental right to live !! N its nt oly feoticide , the mentality as a whole needs to change.


  32. Planning to have a child should solely be a collective decision of both the wife and the husband , and may be the elders in the family can share their experiences, suggest their wishes,ideas or plans for the couple if they are sensible and practical enough , and really care for the welfare of the couple. I honestly think the final call of whether to have the baby or not should be that of the woman herself.

    If a couple can properly “plan” to have a child , they would not have to end up in a situation of thinking to abort the child , unless there could be some physical , psychological complications , medical anomalies to the to-be born or the mother. When a woman gets pregnant because of the couple`s carelessness , and if they then opt for an abortion , it doesn`t look good from the outside , not to say that they are wrong in deciding to do so, but it gives room for people to argue that killing a life is unethical,immature,immoral, etc. Sometimes its not just about being good , but also looking good. This argument will never have a proper answer and will go on, I guess.


  33. Not sure if this thread is still active but I agree with freebird after she clarified. I find sex based selection IN THE INDIAN CONTEXT to be a bit creepy. This is not random, “oh I want a boy/girl” decision. In a society that dehumanizes women, systematically eliminating them is horrific.

    Yes it impinges on a woman’s reproductive rights. I’ve always strongly believed in woman’s right over her body. Until confronted with India’s horrific female feoticide rates. Something is inherently wrong here. This is why context becomes important. In America, women still have to fight for their reproductive rights in some parts because abortion, in general, is illegal. Which to me a is a clear violation of reproductive rights. In the Indian context, it is not so clear cut.

    Which brings us to role of government. Must the government interfere even it is for “good” social reasons? Again, this is highly debatable. Ardent advocates of the free market economy have gone back and revised their opinions after the Wall Street mess and now support some government regulation balanced with market forces.

    Many people have argued for a woman’s right to decide over her body and not having to become an agent for social change. This is not about bringing about social change – it’s about preventing a dangerous environment for future women for which all of us – women AND men must be held accountable. Just like we shouldn’t be dumping plastic water bottles and polluting the planet because it is our individual right to dump. Individual rights can exist only when they don’t endanger others and when they don’t endanger society as a whole. I think a society with severely skewed gender ratio can be a dangerous one.

    Having said that, I must admit these are difficult debates
    – individual reproductive rights at the cost of a dangerously skewed gender ratio
    – the role of government in influencing positive social change or preventing negative changes versus non-interference
    There are merits on both sides of the debates. I really don’t think either side should get condescending toward the other. This is not a black and white situation. There are many nuances here and many implications no matter which way we decide to go.


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