Chennai : Doctor who did 500 sex-selective abortions with quack’s help gives cops the slip

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Chennai : Doctor who did 500 sex-selective abortions with quack’s help gives cops the slipCHENNAI: A quack on bail helped Tiruvanamalai-based Dr Selvaammal Raman carry out more than 500 illegal abortions, directorate of medical services (DMS) officials have found.

Even as police claim to have formed special teams to search for Dr Selvaammal, almost every page of the records officials seized from the illegal abortion clinic in Tiruvannamalai point to the state’s biggest shame — a sex ratio at birth of 895 in the district.

Intelligence reports received by the DMS show that the quack, who two years ago was arrested and jailed for running a sex-determination and sex-selective abortion clinic at her house in the same district, helped Dr Selvaammal get patients. “We seized the ultrasound machines and medicines we found in her house two years ago. We fought for her remand because she had been caught the second time. She was jailed for about six weeks and later let out on bail,” said a senior official.

Now, officials say they have reports of the quack running a mobile scan centre. “She sends patients to Dr Selvaammal after sex determination. It seems like a well-oiled network of people, made up mostly of quacks who have been out on bail,” a senior official said.

Data available with TOI shows that Tiruvanamalai district recorded an abysmal sex-ratio at birth of 895 girls per 1,000 boys until December 2016. “Skewed sex ratio at birth indicates tampering with nature. Only districts with high feticide rates have a low sex-ratio at birth,” said additional director of medical services Dr P Bhanu.

Although Dr Selvaammal had completed her MBBS and has a valid medical registration number, she is not licensed to do abortions under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. Her clinic was sealed and a complaint against her was filed on February 1, but she is yet to be arrested. “A special team is searching for her,” said Tiruvanamalai superintendent of police Ponni.

Delays have not just been from the side of the law enforcers. Almost all violators arrested for sex-determination or illegal abortions have been out on bail. Health secretary J Radhakrishnan promised to invoke sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to push up conviction rate. But his own department has failed to initiate action against an assistant surgeon at Sivaganga Medical College who in July 2017 was caught revealing the gender of fetuses in violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994.

Health department officials say they are doing all they can. For more than three years, a handful of staff have been travelling across the state to raid illegal clinics, and have so far filed at least 500 cases against doctors, paramedics and quacks for sex determination and sex selective abortion or for practising medicine without valid degrees. In the last two years, at least two allopathic doctors, one of them in government service, were caught for resorting to sex-determination. And they continue to practise medicine with no hindrance.

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