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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
'Indian register' for pregnancies
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Foetus in womb
India banned gender selection and selective abortion in 1994
An Indian minister has proposed that all pregnant women register with the government and seek its permission if they wish to undergo an abortion.

Women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury says the move is aimed at stopping the aborting of unwanted female foetuses.

Although prenatal sex determination and selective abortion are banned, far more boys than girls are born.

Critics warn that the new move could backfire and be misused.

Ms Chowdhury also wants abortions to be permitted only in specific circumstances, although she did not spell out what these may be.

Unable to stop

The minister says a register of pregnancies would allow the government to track them and crack down on the practice of foeticide which she says is widespread in parts of northern India.

Despite the ban on prenatal sex determination, the government has been unable to prevent the selective abortion of female foetuses and the practice of female infanticide.

According to the last national census, for every 1,000 boys, there are only 927 girls in India.

But critics say the new move is an infringement on personal freedom and could also be misused.

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