India has become one of the first countries to pass legislation aimed at curbing the growing practice of sex-selection abortions.

The country’s politicians are alarmed by the latest statistics which show that there are only 929 females per 1,000 males. In developed countries there are 1,060 females per 1,000 males.

The law, which took effect on January 1, bans abortions if tests show that the baby is female. First time offenders could face up to three years in jail while second time offenders might draw five years in prison and a fine of $1,500 – the equivalent of almost 10 months’ salary.

Many Indian families, especially Hindus, favour male offspring because they do not have to pay a huge dowry when they get married. The sons also inherit the family fortune.

Unofficially, sex-selection abortions have been carried out in Canada for some time.  There is no way of knowing how many because Statistics Canada does not release the sex of the baby that has been killed by abortion but the practice is known to make pro-abortion groups uneasy.

June Scandiffio, President of Toronto Right to Life, called sex-selection procedures the “Achilles heal” of the pro-abortion movement.

“On the one hand these groups, call for unrestricted abortion because the ‘fetus’ is just a blob of tissue, but on the other hand they condemn sex-selection abortion because they are mainly done on female babies. They can’t have it both ways,” she said.

Scandiffio also suggested that a way of stopping these abortions would be to make it illegal for doctors to release the sex of the baby before it is born.