The Union health ministry has suspended sex determination tests until June 30, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Telegraph reported.
The decision, notified on April 4, suspended certain rules under the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996. Owing to the skewed sex ratio in favour of male child in the country, determining prenatal sex is a criminal offence.
Ultrasound clinics are required to maintain detailed records of women undergoing foetal scans. Their reports are then submitted to the local health authorities. Those representing ultrasound clinics have in the past complained about the paperwork being time-consuming.
The ministry has now done away with the requirement in a bid to relieve the healthcare centres of additional paperwork at the time of the pandemic.
However, the ministry’s notification has raised eyebrows. Critics have argued that the suspension of sex determination test could result in the abuse of the system.
Brinda Karat, a CPM Politburo member has written to health minister Harsh Vardhan, epressing her concern about the move. “This is unusual and unprecedented,” The Telegraph quoted her as writing.
“Suspending the rule means clinics need not produce any records till June 30. This could be misused by unscrupulous sections to conduct sex determination tests freely,” she wrote. “Suspension of the (rules) may lead to sabotage of the law under the guise of the situation created by Covid-19.”
According to NITI Aayog data, the female to male sex ratio stood at 900 per 1,000 during 2013-15.
First Published: IST