Female foeticide: State bars entry of attenders inside ultrasonography rooms


All ultrasound scanning centres and hospitals where scanning is done, have been directed to display boards outside the room on the non-entry of attenders.
| Photo Credit: file photo

Tightening its grip over illegal sex determination, the Health Department has now barred the entry of any attender or relative along with a pregnant woman inside the ultrasonography room. Besides, the display of additional monitors in the ultrasound room is also prohibited.

An official circular in this regard was issued last week. Following this, all ultrasound scanning centres and hospitals where scanning is done have been directed to display boards outside the room stating that no attender would be allowed inside. 

This comes in the wake of the recent unearthing of a female foeticide racket that was being run in the Health Department’s staff quarters at Pandavapura in Mandya district. Despite a crackdown on illegal abortions in Karnataka over the past few months, female foeticide is going on unabated.

State Health Commissioner Randeep D., who also heads the State PCPNDT Task Force, told The Hindu that several violations had been noticed at scanning centres during inspections. The circular was aimed at effective implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, he said.

Video recording

Radiologists and gynaecologists, who attended a recent PCPNDT workshop, raised a concern that attenders were accompanying pregnant women inside the ultrasound room and were capturing videos and photos of the ultrasound procedure.

“They also expressed concern that the recorded video is used to identify the sex of the foetus by sharing it  with other gynaecologists, radiologists, and sonologists.. This is a violation of the PCPNDT Act under Section 5, sub section (2) which states that no person, including the person conducting pre-natal diagnostic procedures, should communicate to the pregnant women concerned or her relatives or any other person the sex of the foetus by words, signs or in any other manner,” he said.

All PCPNDT District Appropriate Authorities had been directed to ensure the new directions were followed strictly by all scanning centres. Appropriate action would be initiated against those found to be violating, he said.

Quoting the PCPNDT Act, the Commissioner said that under Section 4, sub-section (4), no person, including a relative or husband of the pregnant woman, could seek or encourage the conduct of any pre-natal diagnostic techniques on her except for detection of medical issues such as chromosomal abnormalities, genetic metabolic diseases, and congenital anomalies.

New trend

Vivek Dorai, State Deputy Director (Medical Acts), who is also the State PCPNDT nodal officer, said a new trend was emerging in the State wherein some attenders who recorded the videos of the ultrasound procedure were sharing it with their friends or relatives staying abroad to get the sex of the foetus determined. 

“Sex determination is legal in some countries such as Singapore and Thailand, and in Dubai. The circular barring entry of attenders inside the scanning room is to curb this dangerous trend,” he said.

“It is also noted that an additional monitor is installed in the ultrasound room enabling pregnant women to watch the ultrasound procedure. Sometimes, radiologists, without saying anything or making any gestures, can simply point on the private parts of the foetus to indicate the gender. Hence, for effective implementation of the PCPNDT Act the display of additional monitors are prohibited in the ultrasound room,” Dr. Dorai added.

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