LEGAL ASPECT OF SEX DETERMINATION TEST

LEGAL ASPECT OF SEX DETERMINATION TEST

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INTRODUCTION

Sex determination Test is a biological system that determines the development of sexual characteristics in an organism. It is primarily concerned with the determination of sex and the associated physiological processes that supports gonadal development and function. Sex determination system use different genes and regulatory mechanism to establish activities in males and females to control a shared gene switch that regulates sexual development. Human sex determination is dedicated by the XX/YY system.
Some people love the suspense of not knowing the sex of their baby until the delivery. But others can’t wait and find out much sooner. When it comes onto determine the sex of the baby, there isn’t one single test that is used for everyone. So if the parent wants to know the sex of their baby, the doctors can use different sex determination test at different stages of the pregnancy. The test can be reliable but not be suitable for the baby as well as for the mother.

There are various methods that can be used to find out the sex of the baby are:

ULTRASOUND

It is the routine prenatal test. This test uses sound waves to create an image of the baby and it’s often used to check the baby’s development and health. Since ultrasound creates an image of the baby, it can also reveal the sex of the baby. Typically, the ultrasound is done halfway through pregnancy. It is routinely used at different stages of pregnancy. However, be sure to mention that if the parent wants to know the baby’s sex, so the ultrasound technician can look at certain ultrasound signs, such as an erect penis, hamburger sign, turtle sign or absence of the penis. The gestation sac may be seen as early as four and a half week, while a heartbeat may be detected as early as five. Between weeks 18 to 20, the detailed anatomy scan take place, it is at this time the determination of baby’s sex happens.
In addition to an ultrasound, the sec of the baby can be confirmed with an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Amniocentesis is a procedure in which fluids is extracted from the sac surrounding of the baby. CVS involves taking cells from the placenta. While both procedure carry risks, they are extremely accurate in making the determination and can give result by as early as 11weeks by CVS and 15weeks by amniocentesis.

NON-INVASIVE PRENATAL TEST (NIPT)

NIPT is a blood test that specifically checks for down syndromes, trisomy18, extra or missing copies of X/Y chromosomes. This test can also detect fatal DNA present in the blood, which may help determine whether the foetus is male or female. These test can determine the sex of the baby as early as 8 weeks, with about good percent of accuracy. Before 7weeks, blood test can correctly identified male foetuses only 75pecent of the time. After seven weeks, the accuracy went up. Test conducted between seven and twenty weeks of pregnancy accurately identified the baby’s sex. The blood test could help to prevent more invasive procedure down the road.

SEX DETERMINATION Test IN INDIA

There is terrible unbalanced ratio in India, which is going from bad to worse. The implication of sex determination followed by abortion of female foetuses, can be seen at the macro level in the demographic imbalances created by the adverse sex ration of the country, which has declined at the severe level.  Back in 1981, there were 962 girls in the age group of 0-6 years for every thousands boys. This ration fell to 945 girls in 1991, then to 927 girls in 2001 and to 918 girls by the time of the 2011 enumeration.
The authorities had promulgated the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of sex selection) Act in 1994. There were concerns that ultrasound technologies were being used to determine the sex of the unborn child and abort the female foetus, so 1994 law made it illegal for medical practitioner to reveal the sex of the foetus. The PNDT Act mandates that all ultrasound facilities must be registered and medical practitioners must maintain records of every scan of a pregnant women. It states that pre-natal diagnostic techniques can only be used to detect ‘genetic abnormalities or metabolic disorder or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital malformation or sex-linked disorders’.
‘The pre-natal diagnostic techniques was considered to be necessary both for the rational management of disorders, and for the counselling of the parents. It is this aspect of the procedure which have been totally misused for sex determination. Pre-natal diagnostic tests have been a boon to the profit-hungry, who are making full capital of the craze for sons in our society. Pseudo-concern about health has increasingly become a big business, and sex-determination tests have the potential for a fast buck. After all, if even a quack pronounces the foetus as female, no one desperate for a son would hesitate to have an abortion.’
The dilemma about the values at a societal level with respect to elimination of females is perplexing. Female infanticide is regarded as barbaric and inhuman today, and any ‘right thinking’ person would be against it. With liberalized view on abortion, thanks partly due to the government propaganda and promotion.
‘In order to pressurise the State, one of the planks of the campaign has been the demand for legislation to curb the proliferation and misuse of sex determination tests. Maharashtra was the first state to come out with a law in 1986, after pressure from the Forum against Sex-Determination and Pre-selection in Bombay. Rajasthan and Punjab have passed similar legislation. Goa and Gujarat also debated the issue in the Assembly. Simultaneously there was a demand for a comprehensive central legislation. Around 1986-87, a countrywide campaign demanding a central law, was launched by autonomous women’s groups. It involved signature campaigns, sending thousands of postcards, representations to Parliamentarians, lobbying the Committees set up for the purpose of drafting the legislation and keeping the issue alive in the media. It needs to be mentioned, however, that women’s groups have found these laws to be full of loopholes, and almost impossible to implement. It is a testimony to this fact, that there has not been a single prosecution in Maharashtra under this law. This is a result of gaping loopholes in the implementation of the machinery, desultory functioning of the Vigilance Committees set up for the purpose and the fact that women undergoing the tests are also liable for punishment.’

CONCLUSION

The sex determination test helps to know the baby’s sex. It is the part of the new frontier of foetal DNA testing, which can be used to determine the paternity and blood type and is being used to develop early screening test for genetic diseases or disorder like Down syndrome. There are various methods that are used to verify the sex of the baby and also to know the sex of the baby at certain minimum week.
Sex determination in India has drastically changed the route as it has taken other methods of abortion of female foetus, which has increased at certain states in India in late 80’s and 90’s. Now certain Acts has been made to stop this cycle and to bring change in the country.

By Shruti Gupta.

                                                                         References

Tripathi, A. (2016), Sex determination in India, gender imbalance, 5, https://scroll.in/article/805064/sex-determination-in-india-doctors-tell-their-side-of-the-story

Sabu M George (2002) Sex Selection/Determination in India: Contemporary Developments, Reproductive Health Matters, 10:19, 190-192, DOI: 10.1016/S0968-8080(02)00034-4, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1016/S0968-8080%2802%2900034-4

Pappas, S. (2011) Blood test predicts baby sex at 7weeks, Live science contributor, 2, DOI:15475-blood-test-baby-sex-pregnancy.html

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