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Health Minister Restricts Prenatal Sex Determination in Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, December 4
(TBILISI)--Georgia’s Health Minister David Sergeenko has warned doctors not to reveal the gender on an unborn child in an effort to crack down on gender-selective abortions.

“The number of abortions has decreased sharply over the past 18 months...We told doctors not reveal the sex of the fetus until birth, but only a few follow our instructions. This is completely unacceptable,” said Sergeenko.

In May, the Human Rights Committee of the Georgian Parliament rejected a proposal by a local NGOto ban abortion in the country.

The proposal still allowed women to have an abortion during the first trimester of her pregnancy and if the mother’s or the fetus’ life was in danger

The committee rejected the proposal, saying women had the right to make their own decision about their reproductive rights.

Studies and reports that discuss sex-selective abortion are based on the assumption that birth sex ratio—the overall ratio of boys and girls at birth for a regional population, is an indicator of sex-selective abortion.

Most scholars suggest that the expected birth sex ratio range is 103 to 107 males to females at birth.

Countries that regularly practice sex-selective abortion are those with birth sex ratios of 108 and above (selective abortion of females), and 102 and below (selective abortion of males).

The Caucasus is considered a male-dominated region with families putting a higher premium on the birth of boys. As family units have become smaller in recent years, the pressure to have sons has increased.

Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the birth sex ratio in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, was in the 105 to 108 range. After the Soviet collapse, the birth sex ratios sharply climbed and has remained high ever since.

In Georgia, the birth sex ratio for 2005–2009 was about 120. The Economist claims that the practice of sex-selective abortion in the Caucasus has been similar to those in East Asia and South Asia in recent decades.

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia and the United Nations Population Fund office of Georgia, the 2010-2014 data shows that birth sex ratio range was 100 females to 109 males, while the normal biological indicator is at a maximum of 100/106.