When are prenatal diagnostic procedures permitted?

Last updated on Apr 8, 2022

The law allows the use of prenatal diagnostic procedures in certain limited circumstances.

Prenatal diagnostic procedures can be conducted to detect chromosomal abnormalities, genetic metabolic diseases, haemoglobinopathies, sex-linked genetic diseases, congenital anomalies, and other abnormalities or diseases in the foetus.1

To conduct such procedures to detect the above abnormalities, the written consent of the pregnant woman must be taken,2 and at least one of the following conditions3 must also be applicable. To conduct such procedures, it is necessary that:

  • The pregnant woman is older than 35 years;
  • The pregnant woman has had two or more spontaneous abortions or foetal loss;
  • The pregnant woman has been exposed to potentially teratogenic agents such as drugs, radiation, infection or chemicals;
  • The pregnant woman or her spouse has a family history of mental retardation or physical deformities.

If a prenatal diagnostic procedure is conducted after meeting these conditions, the person conducting ultrasonography on the pregnant woman must keep a complete record of it in the clinic as provided under the law.4.

  1. Section 4(2), Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.[]
  2. Rule 10, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Rules, 1996.[]
  3. Section 4(3), Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.[]
  4. Section 4, Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994[]

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What does the law prohibit?

The law prohibits conducting sex selection or prenatal diagnostic procedures, determining and communicating the sex of the foetus, selling machines for sex determination and advertising sex determination facilities.
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What are the offences and punishments under this law ?

Under the Indian law, every offence under the sex selection law is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.
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What is sex selection?

Sex selection includes any procedure, technique, test or administration or prescription or provision of anything to ensure or increase the probability that an embryo will be of a particular sex.
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Who does the law apply to?

The law prohibits anyone from doing or allowing any sex selection procedures and regulates every person who could be involved in the process of sex selection.
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What are prenatal diagnostic procedures?

It includes any gynaecological, obstetrical or medical procedures such as ultrasonography, to conduct any prenatal diagnostic tests for sex selection, before or after conception.
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Where can prenatal diagnostic procedures be conducted?

The law states that only Genetic Counselling Centres, Genetic Laboratories and Genetic Clinics (registered centres) that are registered under the law can conduct permitted prenatal diagnostic procedures.
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