Doctors kill female foetuses for Rs 40,000

2 undercover DH reporters find doctors willing to perform female foeticide. Part-II of a three-part series

A female foetus can be aborted in the capital for Rs 40,000 by a doctor and Rs 10,000 by a fake one, Deccan Herald found. For a mere Rs 500 more, the clinic will even dispose of the foetus.

Married couples often turn to doctors to abort a child after identifying its sex on the 12th week. Delhi’s sex ratio stands at 895 girls per 1,000 boys, according to the city government’s 2013 report on registration of births and deaths.

Two journalists posed as relatives of a pregnant woman and consulted doctors on whether a four-and-a-half-month-old foetus can be aborted.

While we were waiting for a doctor at one such clinic at Arjun Nagar in Safdarjung Enclave, an elderly woman boasted that her daughter-in-law, Dr Rekha Devgun, “single-handedly” aborts foetuses up to five months, even cases that other doctors say no to. “Two years ago, she used to charge Rs 18,000 to abort a five-month-old foetus. Now, the charges have gone up,” says the woman at Devgun Clinic.

Dr Devgun asks us a few questions on the patient’s case history.

“There are risks if the first child was a caesarean.” However, she changed her mind after confirming that the patient’s family was ready to pay more. “Can you afford between Rs 40,000 and Rs 45,000? Then I will get you admitted at ******** Hospital. Or I can carry out the abortion here.”

She points to a dingy room in her clinic. “It would cost you Rs 25,000. Since the first delivery was a caesarean, the money is non-negotiable. It involves more risks,” says Dr Devgun. She named a renowned private hospital in Safdarjung Enclave and claimed she was a former employee there.

At this point, we indicate the foetus delivered will be that of a girl as we had conducted an ultrasound. Going to a private hospital might mean us facing legal action.

Determining the sex of an unborn child is an offence under the Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostics (PCPNDT) Act. Beyond 12 weeks, a foetus can be aborted only if two gynaecologists agree the pregnancy poses a threat to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, or there is a risk that the child born will have deformities.
But Dr Devgun doesn’t care about the law.

“I will go through an insider at the hospital. Also, I worked there. Everything will be taken care of. The procedure will be that of a normal delivery and the patient will be discharged after a few hours,” says Dr Devgun.

She asked us to bring the pregnant relative along the next day.
“But you have to dispose of the foetus yourself. By now the foetus is developed... We will hand it over to you after the abortion,” she adds.

Dr Devgun shares the clinic with her husband, who is registered with the Delhi Medical Council (DMC).

Dr Devgun’s registration number could not be verified with the DMC as she is not registered by her last name. “Ideally, every doctor should be registered with the council by the last name as well that she is using for practising,” said Dr Girish Tyagi, Registrar, DMC.

Now, meet ‘Dr’ Gupta
Neighbours claim ‘Dr’ Vinod K Gupta is a laboratory technician. But the so-called doctor with a fake registration number runs a clinic in Mayur Vihar Phase-3. The registration number mentioned on his letterpad is 19069.

“There is no doctor by the name of Vinod K Gupta registered under this number with the DMC,” said Dr Tyagi. It is mandatory for all doctors to be registered with the DMC.

Gupta doesn’t refuse aborting a female foetus, that too over 18 weeks. He promptly calls back when we called him from a landline number. The family would want to abort the baby as it is a girl child, the journalist says posing as the sister of a pregnant woman.
“Just come. I will do it. (I) will charge you minimum… Consider Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000,” says Gupta.

On hearing the first child is caesarean, the charges went up to Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000.
“It is already over 18 weeks... I will do it but the charges will increase.”

On reiterating the foetus is a girl, he says there would be no legal problems. “The woman is married right? No problem. Send the patient by 9 or 10 am tomorrow,” he adds.
Gupta, who holds no valid degree, decides to go ahead with the abortion even after knowing the sex of the unborn child. For 500 more rupess, he is willing to dispose of the female foetus.

Devgun and Gupta are among several doctors practicing female foeticide in the capital, who go scot-free because of the lethargic standards adopted by the law-enforcing agencies. The Supreme Court recently rapped the Centre for being “sloppy” in checking female foeticide in the country, saying laws were not being implemented and everything was being left to fate.

(Tomorrow: Are the law-enforcing agencies slacked in curbing illegal abortions?)

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