A decline in the number of female babies over the past year has led the Health Promotion Administration to suspect that some gynecologists might be practicing gender selection, causing an alleged 2,272 female babies to “disappear.”
According to the agency, under natural circumstances, the number of male babies is slightly higher than females, but the sex ratio is about 1.06, meaning that for every 100 female babies, there are 106 males.
The administration said that while the birth rate of male children is higher than females, they also suffer a higher mortality rate, which brings the female and male population to a rough parity by the time they reach adulthood.
However, the sex ratio last year rose to 1.083, a five-year record, the agency said.
Director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said the increased ratio was evidence of human intervention.
“There are people [gynecologists] who are making inspections [based on gender] and have denied the right to live to at least 2,272 female infants,” she said.
Gender selection is a serious form of gender discrimination and a precursor to serious social problems, at it will result in more Taiwanese men being unable to find a wife in the future, Chiu said.
The practice of gender selection is not only illegal, but also contravenes medical ethics, she added.
The agency has sent out official notices to all medical societies and organizations that practice or are affiliated with gynecology, telling them to not practice gender selection, Chiu said.
The ratio has never fallen lower than 1.06 over the past four decades, Chiu said, adding that the administration’s records go back to 1976.
In 2011, in an effort to avoid gender selection, the agency told all hospitals and medical facilities that the gender of an infant should not be recorded on hereditary disease assessments made before birth and first-term assessments unless there was a medical cause, Chiu said.
The gender ratio fell from 1.09 in 2010 to 1.078 in 2011, and had remained below 1.08 since, Chiu said, adding that the ratio of 1.069 recorded in 2014 was the lowest in more than three decades.
In response, numerous medical professionals said Chiu’s allegations were unfounded, as the gender ratio fluctuates from year to year.
Fertility Society president Yang Tsai-hsing (楊再興) said that it was meaningless to use a fluctuating number as the standard, adding that the administration should instead focus its efforts on ascertaining whether doctors were actually practicing gender selection.
Concern about men outnumbering women is also a nonissue, as even China does not have this problem, despite enforcing a one-child policy for decades, Yang said.
The higher mortality rate of male infants has been well documented, Yang said, adding that it is perfectly normal for men to outnumber women.
Taiwan Association of Gynecology secretary-general Huang Min-chao (黃閔照) said that Chiu should not blame gynecologists without proof, adding that it is irrational for the agency to take credit when the gender ratio falls, but blames gynecologists when it goes up.
Additional reporting by CNA
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