Women in India
In the streets of India one finds increasingly fewer little girls. You can look in classrooms, streets, and homes to notice that the number of female children is in fact, diminishing. Although a female minority is not a new thing in India, the percentage of women to men has declined steeply. Radhika Balakrishnan reports that national censuses show the sex ratio went from 972 women for every 1000 men in the year 1901 to 936 women for every 1000 men in the year 1981. This number continued to decline to 927 per 1000 in 1991. It is not that female babies are less frequently conceived or more susceptible to disease, but rather that they are killed upon birth, or in some cases not born at all. Modern ultrasonic technology and mobility of the machines that are used to perform ultrasounds have made sex screening a regular practice in India. That availability, in combination with the traditional patriarchal preference for male children, has caused the trend of mass female feticide. Balakrishnan says that from June 1976 to June 1977 one hospital recorded 700 prenatal sex determinations, of which 250 were male and 450 were female. 430 of the female fetuses were aborted, whereas all the males were kept.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, or the MTP, made abortion legal in India, but many laws have since been passed in attempts to limit and punish unauthorized procedures. These, however, are hard to enforce. Unrecognized clinics and private practitioners perform illegal abortions for a nice profit for those who are unable to travel to certified centers. These illegal abortions are often fatal for the mother as well. A 1994 study attributed 20 percent of the maternal deaths from septic abortions to unsafe abortions. The article "Missing Sisters" raises the point that these practices continue to thrive with promotional slogans such as "Pay 500 rupees now and save 50,000 later." The 50,000 rupees refers to the dowries that are traditionally paid by the bride's family to that of the groom. It has been estimated that there are some 11.2 million abortions per year, of which 6.7 million are induced. In rural areas there are 3 illegal abortions for every legal one, and in urban locations that number can be as high as 5. The large number of abortions is reflected in the ratio of girl children to boy children. Although the national girl-boy ratio is 927:1000, it can be as low as 796:1000 in some states.
People commonly ask what someone's stance on abortion is. In itself the question is hard to address. There are always so many different situations that need to be taken into account and it is not a very pleasant topic to begin with. It is not as if anyone is ever going to answer with great conviction, "Yes, I am for it. I like it and I think that it is a great thing for society and a proper method of birth control." Instead, the views usually range from, "Well, I don't like the idea...