COIMBATORE: Commenting on the widespread use of portable scan devices for sex determination in some parts of the State, A Chandranathan, director of Medical and Rural Health Services, said they were unaware of the misuse of such machines to identify foetal sex.
Dr Hariprasad, Block Development Officer in the Department of Public Health, Krishnagiri, said some qualified scan centres, to remain on the safer side, use code words or signals to reveal the gender of the foetus. Medical Termination of Pregnancy is being carried out in the same hospitals as ‘packages’, varying from `5K-`8K depending on development of the foetus, he added.
Similarly, seven scan centres in Cuddalore, Neyveli, Panruti and Vadalur areas use codes such as chocolate or rose to indicate the gender of the foetus as female, said R Murugappan of Cuddalore-based NGO Social Awareness Society for Youth (SASY). The centres would also persuade couples to opt for sex-selective abortion at private hospitals with whom they had a nexus, he said. In most cases, the use of portable scan devices went unrecorded as they were handed out as ‘complimentary gifts’ to doctors in private hospitals if they purchased state-of-the-art conventional scan machines, said activist P Pavalam.
Murugappan alleged that Village Health Nurses (VHNs) would assist pregnant women and take them to private scan centres, which collected `50-70 for revealing the sex of the foetus. The same nurses would take them to private hospitals where sex-selective abortions were done just like regular surgeries.
However, a top Department of Public Health official denied this allegation stating that it was highly impossible. Pavalam, who has been running the Campaign Against Sex-Selective Abortion (CASA) in several districts of Tamil Nadu for 20 years, said two years ago, Chennai-based mobile scanning units with unauthorised portable devices disclosed foetal sex, which led to sex-selective abortion in rural areas of Tiruvallur.