Gynecologists have finally begun making noises against sex selective abortions. The fraternity openly help out guarantees of delivering only males by ensuring that female fetuses were eliminated and made easy money while performing this greatly need social service‘ is beginning to feel the heat.
According to the 2001 census, only 927 female children are born for every thousands male children. It can be assumed that if gynecologists banded together and decided not to ask an ultrasonographer to determine the sex of the foetus and also refused to remove the foetus only because of its gender, sex selective abortions would simply out for want to trained hands. Instead of this, many gynecologists chose to adopt an oath against sex selective abortion without working out a mechanism to ensure that the oath is fulfilled and violators are brought to book. Moreover, any expectations of soul-searching, criticism of peers for lending a hand to this downslide in the female sex ratio or even a generalized discussion on professional ethics were belied at the workshop.
To make matters worse, gynecologists speaking at the session harped on the need to ‘change mindsets’ and condemned sex selective abortions as ‘the earliest form of discrimination’, without examining their own role in making it possible. To add insult to injury, the participating doctors also chose to make partners of religions leaders in their belated recognition of the issue.
Yet, whether religion can be transformative force in highly debatable. The participating religious leaders stick to a prepared script: asserting that their faiths hold women in high esteem ad condemning sex selective abortions. But none had any concrete suggestion on how to go about correcting the imbalance.
Moreover, many of the utterances of the religious leaders were in contradiction of women’s right. For instance in the time-honored tradition of blaming the victim, Sadhvi Ritambara said, “It is the woman who practices discrimination against her own kind.’ She is the one who doles out food and gives less to the daughter. You can’t blame religious leaders (for this) and get away from the fact that women accept their secondary status. “Burying the issue under a long harangue against the modern ‘westernized women, she added that a woman’s identity depends on the ‘fulfillment of maternal instincts.’’ Unborn girls must first get the right to birth and then must live with compassion and maternal feelings informing their minds,” she said. “Abortion is murder,’ declared the reverend Anil cuoto, Archbishop of Delhi. “According to the Bible, God is the author of life and nobody has the right to take it,” he continued, negating women’s hard-won right of control over their bodies and abortions.
Some religious reformers, however, were willing to question the role of institutionalized religion. “Had scriptures been so good, the world would have been a different place today.” Scriptures are not an unmixed blessing. They do contain discrimination against women. A truly enlightened priest is one who will reject these discriminatorily passages and admonish followers to not follow them, “Swami Adnivesh asserted. Agnivesh, a rebel Arya Samaji, also made the much-needed distinction between abortion and sex selective abortion. “Sex selective abortion must stop but women should have the right to abortion. Women in Gujarat who are victims of mass rape must have the right to abort if they wish to and nor carry their forced pregnancies to full term. Even in cases of matrimonial rape, women should have the right to abort, he asserted.”
Many women’s activists and doctors also felt that the shifting of the entire onus of sex determination and sex pre-selection on the public was an attempt to absolve the medical profession of itys ethical and legal obligations.
Indeed, by focusing only on the demand side of the business of sex determination and roping in religions leaders to ‘change the mindset’ of the public, the medical profession has once more refused to look inwards at the supply of medical technology that is misused to eliminate female fetuses.