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Prevalence of and Reasons for Sex-Selective Abortions in Armenia

The political and socioeconomic changes in Armenia over the last 20 years have made an impact on the reproductive behavior of the population, resulting in a dramatic decline in the total fertility rate from 2.62 children per woman of childbearing age in 1990 to 1.56 in 2010. In Armenian society, preference for a son is traditional, even though daughters are also desirable in families — but only after there are already sons.

The analysis of the statistical data for recent years indicates that in Armenia in the case of a first child there is neither prenatal sex determination nor sex-selective abortion, which pose serious problems in many other countries. From the second child on, the ratio tends to increase, causing concern in the cases of the third and fourth children, where the sex-ratio imbalance gives grounds to assume there is a possibility that sex-selective abortions are used in planning a child’s gender and in securing the desired gender of a child. Naturally, this poses a potential threat in terms of giving rise to demographic imbalance.

This study’s goal is to ascertain the prevalence of, and identify and analyze the main reasons for, sex-selective abortions in Armenia, including public perceptions of the issue. Its main objective is to ascertain the reasons for the sex-ratio imbalance by exploring: the range of reasons for son or daughter preference; pregnancy history and outcome; and prenatal sex determination tests and their outcomes.

The principal data collection method was a survey of ever-pregnant women aged 15-49 residing in households randomly selected from throughout the country. This survey was conducted from 15 July to 15 August 2011. A survey of pregnant women who visited medical institutions during the same time period with the aim of getting an induced abortion was also conducted. Express qualitative assessment was additionally undertaken in focus groups conducted in July 2011 for men and women, as well as for obstetrician-gynaecologists, with a view towards developing a more comprehensive and reliable toolkit for a quantitative survey and toward ensuring a more in-depth analysis of the reasons for sex-selective abortions.