A combination of sex-selective abortions and pre-selection of sex at Artificial Reproductive Techniques (ART) were responsible for the declining sex ratio at birth, senior gynaecologist at Lady Goschen Hospital Poornima said here on Wednesday.

She was addressing the participants of a workshop on the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 (PC and PNDT ACT). Talking about bias in delivery of health services for women and children, Dr. Poornima said that although detection of the sex of a foetus was illegal under the PC and PNDT ACT, it was done surreptitiously.

She said that often code words or code signals such as pointing to the photo of Lord Krishna for a boy or Goddess Saraswati for a girl were used to convey the sex of the foetus to parents or relatives. She said that even though sex-selection was banned, a large number of people were unaware of the ban, she said.

The permission given to abort a genetically abnormal foetus under law was abused, she said. Artificial Reproductive Techniques (ART) were misused to pre-determine the sex of the baby, she said. If both boys and girls were equally accepted in society, this problem would not persist, she said.

Inaugurating the programme earlier, Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda said that both medical personnel and parents were equally responsible for the declining child sex ratio. He said that there was a need to educate both. Although the law had been enacted years ago, it was yet to be properly implemented, he added.

District Health Officer O.R. Shrirangappa spoke.