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Friday, May 20, 2011

UCSF Study: Some Indian Immigrants Get Sex-Selection Abortions

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2011 at 3:29 PM

click to enlarge A startling study from UCSF.
  • A startling study from UCSF.

A recently published UCSF study illuminates a startling trend: Indian immigrant women are using reproductive technologies and liberal abortion policies in the United States to abort female fetuses, acting on cultural pressure from their family to bear only sons.

The women used sperm sorting or in-vitro fertilization and implanted only the male embryos. Others aborted female fetuses. 

The study doesn't mention how widespread the practice is; it covers a small sample group. The researchers interviewed 65 immigrant women in California, New Jersey, and New York, all whom were selected because they pursued fetal sex selection between September 2004 and December 2009.


Sunita Puri, a UCSF medical resident, was the head researcher of the study published last month in Social Science & Medicine.  

Of the women, 40 percent had terminated prior pregnancies when carrying a

female; 89 percent who found out they were carrying a girl during

the interview period had an abortion. The women came

from all economic and educational backgrounds: Eight were high school

graduates, 12 were college grads, and 15 had advanced degrees in

medicine, law, business, nursing, or scientific research.

According to a UCSF article

on the study, researchers found that women who carried girls to term were often victims of verbal and

physical abuse. Also, women were pressured, not only by their husbands, but in-laws, especially if the relatives lived nearby. One woman reported that her mother-in-law refused to hold her infant daughter.

In India, sex-selection abortions rise to the level of infanticide, officials say. Responding to the great number of sex-selection abortions there, the

Indian government outlawed the practice in 1994, but census

officials say enforcement is weak, according to a BBC report.



The 2011 Indian Census revealed a sharp decline in girls under the age of seven living in the country; officials attribute that to widespread

abortion of females. The government also outlaws using ultrasound and

sperm-sorting techniques.

But many women continue to have sex-selection abortions under the radar. Yet in the United States, abortions and sperm-sorting techniques at

fertility clinics are readily available and legal, the UCSF article on the study states:

Of the participants, 10 women used sperm-sorting technology

and four underwent in-vitro fertilization with pre-implantation genetic

diagnosis to determine the sex of their fetuses. Of the 51 women using

ultrasound to identify the baby's gender, 24 of their fetuses were male

and 27 were female. All carried male offspring to term. All but three of

the women carrying a female fetus terminated their pregnancies.

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Lauren Smiley

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