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Satyamev Jayate impact: Maharastra government moots murder charge for female foeticide

Recently there has been a marked change in the government's view on female foeticide. After Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate outlined the foeticide menace, a number of state governments have woken up to the malice. In a move to curb female foeticide the Maharashtra government is considering slapping murder charges on those involved in the practice. They intend to send a proposal to the centre, to apply the Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) on those - including family members and medicos - involved.

Health minister, Shetty said that at present, only provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques were applicable to cases of illegal sex tests and abortion of female foetus. He also added that the family members of pregnant women who force them to undergo illegal sex tests or abortion are as responsible as the medicos who perform the surgery. They should be punished as much as the person performing the act. It was observed that since people do not fear the legal consequences, the law never served as a deterrent.

Despite heavy opposition from some members regarding the strong stance the government was taking in raiding and sealing sonography centers and pharmacies selling MTP (Medical termination of pregnancy) pills, the Health Minister pointed out that action has been taken against four family members till date and stricter action would follow. While Shetty assured that the law would be followed properly, and no abortion pills would be sold without prescription. Certain members of parliament were of the opinion that honest medicos were felling terrorised as they could be apprehended on account of minor technical issues.

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The Health Ministry has decided to employ the services of lawyer Ujjwal Nikam in the fight against the doctor couple from Beed, Sudam and his wife Saraswati Munde, who indulged in female foeticide. The two are in judicial custody. In an unprecedented move the statistics show ,of the total 8,331 sonography centres in the state, 291 have already been sealed and of the 4,117 MTP centres, action has been taken against 341 so far.

The show has had quite an impact on various state governments. The Haryana government has announced that pregnant women will have to submit a photocopyof their identification proof at ultrasound centres as a pre-condition for undergoing the test and there are plans to embed observer chips in ultrasound machines. Aamir Khan also met Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot to discuss the female foeticide situation in the state and convinced him that infanticide cases should be fast-trackedin special court. In MP, 65 MTP (medical termination of pregnancy) licences were suspended because they hadn t submitted the necessary document

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