China Says it Will Punish Health Workers Despite No Sex-Selection Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China Says it Will Punish Health Workers Despite No Sex-Selection Abortion Ban Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 2, 2006

Beijing, China ( — A Chinese government official says the Asian nation plans to punish health workers who aid in sex-selection abortions even though the nation failed to approve a ban on the practice in June. The official said the failure to adopt the ban does not mean a relaxation in its policies designed to curb the problematic gender imbalance its family planning program has created.

In June the Chinese government decided against prohibiting abortions used to prevent the birth of girl babies even though its coercive one-child family planning program has created a host of problems.

The Xinhua news agency, China’s official government-controlled news service, quoted an unnamed official with the State Commission for Population and Family.

The official said the nation’s laws still prohibit using ultrasounds machines to tell women or couples the sex of their baby for non-medical purposes.
"The decision to not criminalize sex selection abortions does not mean any policy relaxation," he said.

He pointed out that authorities have prosecuted people in 3,000 cases for non-medical ultrasound use over the last two years, according to Xinhua.

In May, 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.

On the sex-selection abortion ban, Chinese lawmakers could not agree on penalties for those who get around the policy.

Zhou Kunren, the vice-chairman of the parliamentary Law Committee, told Xinhua at the time that some lawmakers want to pass the sex-selection abortion ban to fix the gender imbalance but others disagreed.

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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.