Gynaecologists in the state, who draw blood from pregnant women to check anomalies in foetus, will from now on be required to follow the rules and regulations under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act. This because, the state health department believes through these tests doctors are likely to detect the sex of a child. The department has now appointed an expert committee to look into this.
The move follows a Central proposal that all blood tests related to anomalies in foetus should come under the PCPNDT. "Certain blood tests are used to diagnose the anomalies in a foetus. However, there are chances of such tests revealing the sex of a foetus. Hence, we have decided to appoint an expert committee to go into the issue and take a decision. The report is expected to be submitted within two-three weeks," said Dr Satish Pawar, director, Directorate of Health Services.
"Certain procedures in Invitro Fertility (IVF) like the pre-implementation genetic diagnosis (PGD) procedure may reveal the sex of a foetus. Another test, 'Cell-free foetal DNA testing', a screening test, indicates if a woman is at an increased risk of having a foetus with Down Syndrome. In this test, the blood sample of the woman is taken after 10 weeks of pregnancy. Through this test, if a doctor wants to, s/he can know the sex of a foetus. Hence, the government wants to regularise the procedure and bring it under the Act," Dr Pawar added.
The expert committee will include the president of the state Indian Medical Association (IMA), a representative of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), PCPNDT nodal officer and a genetics expert.
PCPNDT Act 1994 is a federal legislation enacted by Parliament to stop female foeticide to arrest the declining sex ratio in India. As per the Act, prenatal sex determination is banned. This prevents the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for selective abortion. As per the Act, it's compulsory that all diagnostic laboratories, genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics be registered.
The government has initiated this drive to curb the rising cases of sex determination in the state, especially after doctors in Beed district were found guilty in an illegal abortion case where a women died during the procedure.