While the preference for male children in many societies is well-known, in Tamil Nadu, particularly in districts like Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Salem, Namakkal, Perambalur and Cuddalore, sex ratio is skewed. Cheap technology such as ultrasound has made it possible for people to determine the sex of fetus and terminate pregnancy.
In February, the state medical council temporarily barred Dr K Ramachandran of Mahalakshmi Nursing Home in Neyveli from practicing medicine after an inspection found him wheeling in a woman for sex-selective abortion. “The woman was told that she was having a baby girl, given pills for abortion and then taken to the theatre for abortion when we caught him. We have seized equipment including ultrasound and documents. The case is being heard by a Neyveli court,” said a senior official who was part of the inspection team. The officials referred his case to the state medical council, and based on the investigation by the disciplinary committee, the general council decided to remove his names from the medical register until further orders. State medical council president K Senthil said the council would debar doctors up to two years if found guilty of sex determination and sex selective abortion. “That’s for the first offence. They will be debarred permanently in case of a repeat offence,” he said
When a central investigation team visited the state, it found an Athur-based Dr Dhamayanthi of Saravana Scan Centre using an unregistered ultrasound machine hidden in the operation theatre. The act mandates doctors to register all ultrasound machines. In September 2015, the health authorities sealed one such machine for violations including poor maintenance of patient records. In February, this team received information that the doctor was clandestinely screening pregnant women. “We do not know if she determined sex or aborted children, but using an unregistered machine is a gross violation,” said a senior official.