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Legal Abortion in China

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Legal Abortion in China


There are many problems that our world today has to face. Those problems don’t only have an effect to the country, but it can also affect us individuals. Those problems are drug addictions, murders, prostitutions, kidnappings, and etc. It also includes abortions. Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy.

Abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local law, is among the safest procedures in medicine. However, unsafe abortions result in approximately 70,000 maternal deaths and 5 million hospital admissions per year globally. Statistics shows that there are approximately 42 million abortions occurs every year worldwide. And according to China Daily, a state-controlled newspaper, out of the 42 million abortions occurs every year; China has the 30% of it with 13 million abortions annually. Abortion in China is legal and is a government service available on request for women. 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.

I. One-child Policy

A. Definition

The one-child policy is the population control policy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It restricts urban couples to only have one child, while allowing additional children in several cases, including twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children themselves. In 2007, according to a spokesperson of the Committee on the One-Child Policy, approximately 35.9% of China’s population was subject to a one-child restriction. The Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are completely exempt from the policy. Also exempt from this law are foreigners living in China.

B. Problems Associated with Over Population

China has the highest population in the world, encompassing 1.2 billion or twenty one percent of the world’s population. China faces serious social and economic problems associated with overpopulation in the years to come. Overly populated regions lead to degradation of land and resources, pollution, and detrimental living conditions. The Chinese government has tried to find a solution to the problem of increasing population with moderate success.

C. China’s Population Control Policy

The Chinese government has used several methods to control population growth. In 1979, China started the “one child per family policy”. This policy stated that citizens must obtain a birth certificate before the birth of their children. The citizens would be offered special benefits if they agreed to have only one child. Citizens who did have more than one child would either be taxed an amount up to fifty percent of their income, or punished by loss of employment or other benefits. Furthermore, unplanned pregnancies or pregnancies without the proper authorization would need to be terminated.

D. Population Control Methods

Other methods that have been used by the Chinese government to restrict rising population totals include birth control programs and economic changes. In the early ’80’s, sterilization target goals were set and made mandatory for people who had two children. At its peak in 1983, tubal ligations, vasectomies, and abortions amounted to thirty-five percent of the total birth control methods. In addition, the economy changed from primarily one of agriculture to industry. The government used this to its advantage; spreading the view that economic growth would hinder population growth.

E. Human Rights Violation

The one-child policy is challenged in principle and in practice for violating a human right to determine the size of one’s own family. According to a 1968 proclamation of the International Conference on Human Rights, “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children.” A 2001 report exposed that a quota of 20,000 abortions and sterilizations was set for Huaiji County in Guangdong Province in one year due to reported disregard of the one-child policy. The effort included using portable ultrasound devices to identify abortion candidates in remote villages. Earlier reports also showed that women as far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort by injection of saline solution. There were also reports of women in their 9th month of pregnancy, or already in labour, having their children killed whilst in the birth canal or immediately after birth.

F. Recent Effects of the One Child Policy

Now that millions of siblings-less people in China are now young adults in or nearing their child-bearing years, a special provision allows millions of couples to have two children legally. If a couple is composed of two people without siblings, then they may have two children of their own, thus preventing too dramatic of a population decrease.

Although IUDs, sterilization, and abortion (legal in China) are China’s most popular forms of birth control, over the past few years, China has provided more education and support for alternative birth control methods. In 2007, there were reports that in the southwestern Guangxi Autonomous Region of China, officials were forcing pregnant women without permission to give birth to have abortions and levying steep fines on families violating the law. As a result, riots broke out and some may have been killed, including population control officials.

I. Forced Abortion

A. Definition

A forced abortion may occur when the perpetrator causes abortion by force, threat or coercion, or by taking advantage of woman’s incapability to give her consent. This may also include the instances when the conduct was neither justified by medical or hospital treatment. Like forced sterilization, forced abortion may include a physical invasion of female reproductive organs.

B. Forced Abortions in China

Forced abortions associated with administration of the one-child policy have occurred in the People’s Republic of China; they are a violation of Chinese law and are not official policy. They result from government pressure on local officials who, in turn, employ strong-arm tactics on pregnant mothers. On September 29, 1997 a bill was introduced in the United States Congress titled Forced Abortion Condemnation Act, that sought to “condemn those officials of the Chinese Communist Party, the government of the People’s Republic of China and other persons who are involved in the enforcement of forced abortions by preventing such persons from entering or remaining in the United States”] In June 2012 Feng Jianmei was forcibly made to abort her 7 month old fetus after not paying a fine for breaking the one-child policy. Her case was widely discussed on the internet in China to general revulsion after photos of the stillborn baby were posted online. A fortnight after the forced abortion she continued to be harassed by local authorities in Shaanxi Province. On July 5, the European Parliament passed a resolution saying it “strongly condemns” both Feng’s case specifically and forced abortions in general “especially in the context of the one-child policy.”

C. Abortion Statistics in China

• Chinese data show that 13 million abortions are performed each year, for an average rate of 35,000 abortions per day. • About 27.3% of women in their 20’s—about 27.3 million women—have had an abortion. • In 2000, more than half of all abortions in China were a result of prenatal sex selection. • One survey of 8,846 women showed that of those women who have had one abortion, 35.97% have another abortion shortly after the first one. • An average of 8 million women undergoes abortions every year in China. • The abortion rate among women in China is 29.3%, which far exceeds the average level of other developed nations; in the population of 20-29 year-old young women, the abortion rate is 62%. • In Shanghai, Beijing and other large cities, the rate of repeat abortion is higher than 50%.

II. Sex-selective Abortion

A. Definition

Sex-selective abortion is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based upon the predicted sex of the baby. The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children, especially in parts of People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, and the Caucasus.

B. Sex-selective Abortion in China

A sex-selective abortion is going on in China. Every year, about a million female fetuses are aborted and tens of thousands of female babies go missing. In China, a historical preference for a male child has been exacerbated by the one-child policy, which was enacted in 1979. The strong cultural preference for sons is heightened by the one-child policy leading and cultural values results in serious consequences.

The 1960s scare for overpopulation led governments to implement laws to control birth rate such as the one-child policy. Accordingly, it led to consequence where parents highly value boys over girls; even to a point where words such as “infanticide” come into existence. Infanticide has come to be known as the “Holocaust for baby girls”. What’s more, her child will follow the husband’s surname and is restricted to visit her parents whenever she wishes. These kinds of cultural practice mixed with the government implications of one-child policy have caused one-daughter parents to become ‘’childless’’ after the marriage. As a result, these parent no longer have a financially supporting or lineage successor. Thus, for parents to ensure financial dependence and hereditary successor, a boy must be born. In this regard, the pervasion of male dominant culture and one-child policy heightens the sex-selective abortion. As most Chinese families are given incentives to have only one child, and would often prefer at least one son. Researchers have expressed concern that prenatal sex selection may reduce the number of families in the next generation.


BBC: China steps up “one-child policy”

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David Barboza. “China Suspends Family Planning Workers After Forced Abortion”. The New York Times.

Eberstadt, Nicholas, “A Global War Against Baby Girls: Sex-selective Abortion Becomes a Worldwide Practice”, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, May 1, 2011

“EU Parliament condemns China forced abortions”. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Agence France-Presse. July 6, 2012.

Evan Osnos (June 15, 2012). “Abortion and Politics in China”. The New Yorker.

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The Epoch Times: http://tinyurl.com/9pl9jas

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/abortion

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_China

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_abortion

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

Wikipedia: en. wikipedia.or/wiki/Sex-selective_abortion

Wong, Edward (June 26, 2012). “Forced to Abort, Chinese Woman Under Pressure”. The New York Times.

Wong, Edward. “Reports of Forced Abortion Fuel Push to End Chinese Law”. The New York Times.

Xinhua News, 2/22/2010; http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/health/2010/02/201002220029.shtml


In conclusion of this research, China is overpopulated and nearly reaches billions in populations when they decided to have the one–child policy. One-child policy is one of their ways to control the population by having just one child per family. But twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, couples who are both only children themselves, citizens of Hong Kong and Macau, and also the foreigners who live in China are completely exempt from the policy. Having a second child is forbidden in China unless you have the capacity to pay the tax or else you have to suffer from punishment by loss of employment and other benefits. Population control officials have the right to terminate the fetus when the pregnancy is unplanned or unable to pay the tax.

In regards with the one-child policy, families who are willing to cooperate with the policy prefer to have their one-child as a boy. Whenever they know that their soon-to-be baby is a girl, they have the right to have and undergo abortion since abortion is legal whenever it has consent. Abortion is legal when the mother gives consent to abort the fetus in her stomach. But what happened in China is the population control officials force the mothers to sign the abortion consent which caused the Forced Abortion and the high rate of abortion within the country.

In brief explanation, the reason why abortion is legal in China is to control the big population growth of the country as part of their family planning program aside from using contraceptives.

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