Abortion in China

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Abortion in China is legal and is a government service available on request for women.[1] In addition to virtually universal access to contraception, abortion is a way for China to contain its population in accordance with its one-child policy.[2]

History

In the early 1950s, the Chinese government made abortion illegal save when 1) the mother had a preexisting condition, such as tuberculosis or pernicious anemia, that would cause the pregnancy to be a threat to the mother's life; 2) when traditional Chinese medicine could not settle an overactive fetus and spontaneous abortion was expected; and 3) when the mother had already undergone two or more Caesarean sections.[3] Punishments were written into the law for those who received or performed illegal abortions.[3]

In 1954 and 1956, the law was extended to include other pre-existing illnesses and disabilities, such as hypertension and epilepsy, as well as allowed women working in certain types of occupations to qualify.[3] Women who had already had four children and became pregnant four months after giving birth to their last child also qualified for an abortion.[3]

These restrictions were seen as the government's way of emphasizing the importance of population growth.[3] The scholar Nie Jing-Bao explains that these laws were relaxed in the late 1950s and early 1960s with the intent of reducing the number of deaths and lifelong injuries women sustained due to illegal abortions as well as serving as a form of population control when used in conjunction with birth control.[3]

Statistics

Exact statistics on the number of abortions performed annually are hard to come by as not all abortions are registered and Family Planning statistics are usually considered state secrets.[4] However in 2008, there were an estimated 13 million abortions performed, and approximately 10 million abortion pills sold.[4] Induced abortions are more common in urban areas, where couples may only have one child.[5] In rural areas, it is permissible to have a second child if the first born is a girl and a "second-birth permit" is granted, costing approximately 4,000 yuan (US$600).[6] By the 70s, abortion was officially termed a "remedial measure" for realising China's goals of controlling the population.[7]

Sex-selective abortion

The exception to the otherwise general permissibility of abortion in China is that the practice of pre-natal sex determination and sex-selective abortions for non-medical reasons are illegal.[8][9] It is argued that sex-selective abortion continues to be one of the key factors in the notably imbalanced sex-ratio in China, as the imbalance cannot be explained solely by the underreporting of female births or by excess female infant mortality.[10] In 2001, 117 boys were born to every 100 girls.[10] These trends are explained by the persistence of a preference for sons in Chinese families.[11]

In 2005, the government began an Action Plan consisting of ten policies with the aim of normalising the sex ratio of newborns by 2010.[12] Under this plan, sex-selective abortion was outlawed, as was prenatal sex diagnosis, and harsher punishments were implemented for violating both. Other policies include controlling the marketing of ultrasonic B machines and improving the systems used by medical and Family Planning organisations to report on births, abortions and pregnancies.[12]

Despite this, sex-selective abortion continues to be practiced, as it is not easily regulated by governments and because son-preference persists.[10][13] Moreover, in many cases the couple can pay, or will try to pay, to be told the sex of their child while having an ultrasound.[14]

Family planning

The importance of abortions as a family planning tool is evident through the extensive implementation of medical abortions (abortion induced by pills, which can be performed in early pregnancy) in China. In fact, such abortions were legalized in China in 1988, earlier than any other place and are already produced in a large scale in China for many years. It is unclear whether the efficiency of the procedure reaches the high success rates it has in many western countries, but it is highly promoted by Chinese doctors[15] and much less invasive than regular abortions.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.actnow.com.au/Issues/Abortion_confusion.aspx
  2. ^ Hesketh, Therese . Lu, Li. Xing, Zhu Wei, Sept 2005, "The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy After 25 Years", The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 353, Iss. 11. Retrieved 5 Dec 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Jing-Bao, Nie. Behind the Silence: Chinese Voices on Abortion Lanham, ML: Rowman & Litterfield Publishers, 2005.
  4. ^ a b Report: China aborts 13 million babies a year". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. 31 July 2009. pp. 2A.
  5. ^ Garner, Paul. Qian, Xu. Tang, Shenglan, Jan 2004, “Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion Among Unmarried Women in China: A Systematic Review,” BMC Health Services Research, Bio Med Central, p. 3.
  6. ^ Junhong, Chu, June 2001, “Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 27, Iss. 2, p. 264. Retrieved 3 Sept 2010.
  7. ^ Nie, Jing-Bao. Feb 2010, “Limits of State Intervention in Sex-Selective Abortion: The Case of China,” Culture, Health and Sexuality, Vol. 12, Iss. 2, p. 206. Retrieved 3 Sept 2010.
  8. ^ Nie, Jing-Bao. Feb 2010, “Limits of State Intervention in Sex-Selective Abortion: The Case of China,” Culture, Health and Sexuality, Vol. 12, Iss. 2, p. 205.
  9. ^ Junhong, Chu, June 2001, “Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 27, Iss. 2, p. 262.
  10. ^ a b c Hesketh, Therese . Lu, Li. Xing, Zhu Wei, Sept 2005, “The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy After 25 Years, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 353, Iss. 11.
  11. ^ Junhong, Chu, June 2001, “Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 27, Iss. 2, p. 267.
  12. ^ a b Nie, Jing-Bao. Feb 2010, “Limits of State Intervention in Sex-Selective Abortion: The Case of China,” Culture, Health and Sexuality, Vol. 12, Iss. 2, p. 207.
  13. ^ Junhong, Chu, June 2001, “Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 27, Iss. 2, p. 261.
  14. ^ Junhong, Chu, June 2001, “Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 27, Iss. 2, p. 269.
  15. ^ Medical Abortions in China - A Long Lasting Love Affair, Thinking Chinese, March 2011