China Planning Stricter Sex-Selective Abortion Regulations
The Chinese government plans to implement new regulations to bansex-selective abortion in an effort to counter the widening genderimbalance, Wang Yongqing, deputy head of the Office of LegislativeAffairs of the State Council, recently said, Xinhua/People's Dailyreports. Sex selection is currently banned in the country under thePopulation and Family Planning Law ,and the Law on Maternal and InfantHealth, but there are no provisions on the applicable punishment if thelaws are violated (Xinhua/People's Daily, 8/25).
China'sone-child-per-family policy seeks to keep the country's population, now1.3 billion, at about 1.7 billion by 2050. According to the "StrategicResearch Report on National Population Development," released by the National Population and Family Planning Commission,the country's birth rate has decreased from 5.8 children per woman inthe 1970s -- when the one-child policy was implemented -- to 1.8children per woman currently. The one-child policy has led to a genderimbalance in the country because of a preference for male children.According to government statistics, about 117 boys are born for every100 girls born in China, compared with an average of between 104 to 107boys per 100 girls in industrialized countries (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 1/16).
According to Xinhua News Agency, thenew regulations will define the responsibilities of regionalgovernments and related government departments in curbing the genderimbalance (Reuters India,8/25). "There are still risks of fertility rate rebound in China," Wangsaid, adding that "gaps exist between people's attitudes towardchildbearing and China's existing laws on family planning."
Wangsaid that "several laws and regulations on family planning have beenlisted on State Council's legislative plan for 2007, including theregulation to ban sex-selective abortion." He added that the StateCouncil is studying the regulation and will release it soon (Xinhua/People's Daily, 8/25).
The proposal to implement new regulations to ban sex-selectiveabortions "raises sensitive issues," and "[h]opefully ... it is anothersign that the days of the one-child policy, which is at the root ofthem, are numbered," a South China Morning Post editorialsays. The one-child policy has "served a purpose in terms of populationcontrol," but "even this justification for it is not as strong as inthe past," the editorial says. There are now economic reasons forreconsidering the one-child policy, such as the changing demographicsin China and a "need for young people who can support" the economy,according to the editorial.
The policy is "flawed on socialand human rights" grounds, "iniquitous in its application," and it has"grossly exacerbated the consequences of the cultural preference" ofboys over girls, according to the Morning Post. TheChinese government has "indicated that it will maintain current familyplanning policies to meet a population target of 1.36 billion by 2010,"the editorial says, concluding, "By then, hopefully, it will recognizethat the one-child policy no longer makes social or economic sense" (South China Morning Post, 8/26).
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