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Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that the Texas employee had been let go because she “did not follow our protocol” for dealing with “a highly unusual patient scenario.”

“Planned Parenthood insists on the highest-quality patient care, and if we ever become aware of a staff member not meeting these high standards we take swift action,” she said.

Planned Parenthood “opposes racism and sexism in all forms,” she said, adding that the video is a “hoax patient encounter.”

Four states - Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona - outlaw abortions performed solely because of the sex of the child.

All sex-selection abortions stem from the determination of the baby’s sex. Some medical tests are available early in pregnancy - and one over-the-counter test claims it can predict the sex of the fetus as early as 10 weeks after conception. But many times, parents wait for an ultrasound scan, which takes place in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.

Sex-selection abortions, therefore, are often done in the second or third trimester.

According to demographers, a “normal” sex ratio at birth is about 104 boys for every 100 girls. Experts become alarmed when they see a sex ratio that exceeds 106 boys to 100 girls.

In his 2009 study, Mr. Abrevaya analyzed birth data of several racial groups, including white, black, Chinese and East Indian mothers in California.

The white and black mothers showed no gender differences in births - boys were as likely to be born as girls - and normal sex ratios were also seen for first-born children of Chinese and Indian mothers.

But for third and fourth babies, the preference for boys in Asian populations was unmistakable and “could not be explained” by biology, said Mr. Abrevaya, whose study appeared in the American Economic Journal. He estimated that between 1991 and 2004, there were 900 “missing” girls among Chinese mothers and 1,300 “missing” girls among Indian mothers.

The reasons for “son preferences” include traditional inheritance practices, male employability, wedding customs that favor the groom and his family, and burial practices that require a son’s attendance to the dead.