Taiwan's health ministry says hospitals will be penalized for conducting gender selective abortions blamed for up to 3,000 aborted female fetuses last year.

Deputy Health Minister Chiang Hung-che said Monday his department is investigating hospitals allegedly involved. Violators could have their licenses revoked.

Another official, Chiou-Shu-ti, blamed gender-based abortions for Taiwan's high proportion of male births. That stands at 1.09 male births for every female born, as compared to the worldwide ratio of 1.06.

China and India have wider discrepancies even though both ban doctors from revealing gender of a fetus.

Many Taiwanese still prefer boys over girls because boys carry the family name and are believed better positioned to support families financially.