Selective abortion in Eastern Europe

Publié le : 13 December 2013

 The Population and Societies report published in December 2013 by the National Institute for Demographic Studies (NIDS) highlighted the masculinisation of births in Eastern Europe, except Kosovo. This phenomenon, which started in the 1990s, went unnoticed due to major changes in these countries (dismantling of the communist block and conflicts). 

Although India and China "are reputed to have an unbalanced sex ratio[…] this phenomenon also affects several Eastern European countries and diasporas of Asian origin". The NIDS report shows that the "imbalance in terms of male and female births often exceeds that of India". The norm is considered to be 105 males to 100 female births. The sex ratio in southern Caucasia (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) ranges from 110 to 117. Azerbaijan is the second country after China to have a high male birth rate. In the western Balkan states, "the levels observed are lower, around 110-111 male births to 100 females" but the persistence of this imbalance is a warning sign.
The sex ratio can be attributed to three factors: 1/the traditional preference for male births, which has been identified as the main cause, 2/ access to gender selection screening, including ultrasound scans and abortion, 3/ the exacerbating effect of lower fertility rates. "The recent decrease in fertility and the emergence of modern health services […] have strengthened the desire for prenatal gender selection". Abortion is still used as a "family planning method" in former Soviet bloc countries except Albania.
According to the Quotidien du médecin, the report concludes by emphasising the risk of "trivialising the role of new technologies in discriminatory practices". These methods are currently the subject of European bioethics debates.

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