China Will Not Ban Sex-Selection Abortions Despite Gender Imbalance

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China Will Not Ban Sex-Selection Abortions Despite Gender Imbalance Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 26, 2006

Beijing, China ( — The Chinese government has decided it will not prohibit abortions used to prevent the birth of girl babies even though sex-selection abortions have contributed to a stark gender imbalance that is creating a host of social problems. The nation’s state-owned media reported the plan to scrap the idea.

China now has 119 boys for ever 100 girls, a gender imbalance that is far from the normal 103-100 ratio seen in industrialized nations across the globe. The imbalance has given rise to a culture of massive sex-trafficking and the kidnapping of teenagers and young adults to be forced into marriage.

Though it has started to crack down on the use of ultrasound machines to determine the gender of an unborn child, Chinese lawmakers could not agree on penalties for sex-selection abortions for those who get around the policy.

Zhou Kunren, the vice-chairman of the parliamentary Law Committee, told China-run media that lawmakers could not come together to finalize the amendment to the nation’s criminal law. He indicated some lawmakers want to pass the sex-selection abortion ban to fix the gender imbalance but others disagree.

"However, other experts argue it is inappropriate to criminalize such practice because pregnant women enjoy the right to know the sex of the fetus," he said.

The country has also become a nation of bachelors as Chinese men have problems finding potential wives and starting families. This has contributed to a rise in crime, prostitution, and other problems.

China’s family planning policy prohibiting couples from having more than one child has given rise to sex-selection abortions and Chinese culture traditionally favors boys over girls. That view is especially prevalent in rural areas where older couples want to pass on family farms to their sons.

Sex-selection abortions and infanticides have become commonplace as a result.

Last month, the Chinese government closed more than 200 clinics in the province of Hebei that were telling women the sex of their unborn children so they could have abortions of girl babies. The Shanghai Daily said there were 134 boys born for every 100 girls in Hebei.

Officials found 848 cases of sex-selection abortions occurring as a result of the clinics telling of the baby’s gender.

The newspaper reported that 745 hospitals and clinics were involved in the investigation and, in addition to those closed, another 374 were fined. The government opened legal cases against three medical workers involved in arranging illegal abortions.

Ironically, population control officials sent portable ultrasound machines to hundreds of cities across the nation in the early 1980s to make sure women who were required to wear a birth control device kept it in. The machines were later used to determine the sex of a baby for an abortion.

But Chinese couples determined to have a son easily get around the new laws as a black market has sprung up of people with ultrasound machines in the trunks of cars or house closets are willing to divulge the sex of an unborn baby for a price.

Some Chinese are selling their girl babies to those seeking girls for their sons. Chinese officials have uncovered massive baby-selling schemes including finding newborns in bags in the back of trucks and on buses on their way to be sold.

The poor parents of unwanted newborn girls sell their babies for a little as $8.

The latest Chinese census, in April, shows 120 men for every 100 women in the Asian nation, up from 117 per 100 in the 2000 census.