New Delhi Rape Triggers Shift on Female Abortion

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Women's rights in India took center stage recently, following a horrific gang rape on a New Delhi bus.

Many hoped attention from the outrage over the attack would lead to a culture change. That shift is now taking place with a fight to end a long-standing and illegal practice: female abortion.

Recently, the government announced steps to stop gender-based abortion, which kills about 7,000 unborn girls a day in India.

It's a tragedy that Dr. Prakash Tyagi, in Rajasthan, India, sees regularly.

"The ultrasound technology has reached most parts of the country," Tyagi said. "It has become more affordable, more accessible, and it has definitely fueled the whole sex-selective abortion scenario."

On paper, the practice is illegal, but social forces demand it. That's because in many homes, girls are seen as an economic liability.

"Girls are considered to be a burden on families and boys are considered to be the producers of the family, the ones who are going to work for the family, who are going to bring incomes," Tyagi explained.

The story of a woman named Kaveena, 26, story is common: She had an abortion several years ago, although she did not want it.

"I already had a son, but then I became pregnant again and discovered that I was having a girl," she recalled. "The family and village pressure was so much I had to do it."

Now there's new hope that cultural support for aborting baby girls in the womb may be softening.

The government has announced that it's penalizing some of the doctors who perform these gender-based abortions. About 100 doctors will serve up to five years in prison for performing gender-based abortions.

The government will also either suspend or cancel their medical license.

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