A massive genocide has been unearthed with the 2011 Indian census. It shows a drop in the numbers of girls per 1,000 boys up to the age of six to 914, from 927 a decade ago. Indiscriminate abortion of female foetuses is the reason for this skewed ratio. Naturally, if abortions were not done, there would be about 952 girls born for every 1000 boys. The exact number of abortions done in India, for obvious reasons, is not known.
Had an equal number of male foetuses also been killed, this genocide would have not have been known. It is doubtful whether the issue would have come to the limelight, in case the exact number of abortions was known and their numbers were equal. It is a regrettable fact that when there are people to fight for women's rights and animal rights, there are not many who uphold the sanctity of human life. Different reasons have been cited for the widespread female foeticide including ineffective implementation of the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Section) Act, illegal promotion of ultrasound machines by business giants, greedy radiologists and gynaecologists who comply with people for abortions and the patriarchal system of society. While there are elements of truth in some of these and none in others, the overarching, real reason is quite deep.
A qualified doctor in India who does an abortion for wrong reasons is unlikely to get caught. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which could rightly be called, ‘The Guardian Demon,' is such that one can do an abortion for whatever reason and still remain free. It allows a doctor to do an abortion if he ‘feels' that there is a grave risk to the mental health of the mother upon continuance of the pregnancy. Since this is very subjective, when stated as a reason, a doctor is free from any hassles. Contraceptive failure like the failure of condoms which cannot be ascertained by the doctor by any means, as a reason for which any couple can seek an abortion, is another highlight of this Act. The MTP Act, by its nature being very liberal, allows both doctors and clients to do abortions for the wrong reasons.
A growing disregard for the sanctity of human life has led to the liberalisation of abortion laws world over. In developing countries, a common view is that liberal abortion laws bring down maternal mortality. However, it should be noted that maternal mortality had improved considerably in western countries even before abortion laws were liberalised. Countries like Ireland which have stricter abortion laws record one of the best maternal mortality figures in the world. There are many humane ways of bringing down maternal mortality, and legalised killing of foetuses may not be the right one. In the West, while it is promiscuity that leads to unwanted pregnancies, the solution is found in killing foetuses and not in decrying promiscuity.
Abortion, though sounds milder, is nothing but taking a person's life. Our lives come into existence by a process which is too beautiful to describe, as if by a sculptor who makes his artwork fearfully and wonderfully, who takes pain to make every detail of it very artistic and without blemish. Anyone who has held a newborn baby would know this fact. This process starts right on day one of conception, in the wombs of our mothers. Therefore, taking someone body's life, even one's own child before he or she is born, for reasons such as greed for a male child, want of money, avoiding social embarrassment and unwillingness to take the responsibility of bringing up children, amount to murder. This heinous act should be abhorred at all costs.
A society has to kill its conscience before it kills its children. In the West, while the killing happens to maintain its sexual freedom, in the East it happens to satisfy its greed for having male babies. In this heinous crime, whether it is the greedy gynaecologist or the radiologist, or the greedy family which asks for the abortion, the conscience is killed first before the baby is killed. Foeticide is nothing but infanticide happening in a much earlier state. It appears as if education has not done much to arrest the moral degradation of people. This is proved by the fact that abortion practices are higher among the educated lot. A hardened conscience and disregard for the sanctity of life is the reason for widespread abortion, and female foeticide in particular.
“What's wrong with the world,” a famous author said: “I am.” It is true that every evil act by a human being ultimately has its source in the heart of the person. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and no one understands it really well. In the light of this, we, the human beings, who were foetuses to start with, whether lawmakers or doctors or the common man, should make all our decisions, especially when it comes to abortion, with a clear conscience and should refrain from flouting the sanctity of human life.
(The author is on the faculty of a private medical college. His email id is firstname.lastname@example.org)