“The mother of all frauds”: cheating pregnant women using ultrasound scans in India

Ingenuity, reports the Hindustan Times, is often the hallmark of cheats. In Rajasthan, unscrupulous medical practitioners, looking to make quick money, have been caught duping pregnant women to undergo abortions after telling them that they were carrying a girl child despite the fetus being male. This has been discovered in several cases through women posing as patients in decoy operations.“It is perhaps the mother of all frauds,” said Naveen Jain, head of Rajasthan’s Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques bureau of investigation, and mission director of National Health Mission. Sex determination using ultrasound is banned in India. Abortion is not but these are often confused.Since 2009, the state of Rajasthan has carried out 39 decoy operations to catch those involved in sex determination and illegal abortions. Those involved in the illegal trade reportedly mostly use cheap Chinese-made portable ultrasound machines. Many of them are not trained doctors and cannot decipher the ultrasound. Social activist Rajan Choudhary, whose tip-offs have led to several decoy operations, says, “The doctors have a network of government and private nurses who terminate pregnancies at home. Doctors who conduct only the ultrasound refer women to them for abortion. The network works as middlemen for ultrasound clinics.”SOURCE: Hindustan Times, by P Srinivasan, 1 December 2016 ; PHOTO: BBC India, by APF