China’s Largest Province Prohibits Sex-Selection Abortions, Gender ID

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 13, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China’s Largest Province Prohibits Sex-Selection Abortions, Gender ID Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 13, 2006

Beijing, China ( — The largest province in China has issued new regulations prohibiting sex-selection abortions and the use of ultrasound technology to identify the sex of an unborn child for non-medical purposes. The new rules are intended to combat the problematic gender imbalance the nation is experiencing.

The province of Henan is following the heels of other areas of China trying to crack down on the use of abortion to give birth to male children.

Chinese culture, especially in rural areas, values boys over girls as boys carry on the family name, work on the family farm and support their parents when they’re older.

Because Chinese couples are limited to one child, abortion and infanticide are frequently used to ensure that child is a boy. Some girls are even sold or given away in order for Chinese families to have one son to comply with the family planning rules.

The new regulations, which take effect next year, require hospitals to put together expert panels to identify the gender of an unborn child only when medically necessary. Otherwise, medical facilities are not allowed to reveal the information.

Abortions must be reported to county family planning authorities and certified that they were not done because the unborn child is a girl, according to a Zhengzhou Evening News story.

Women who have a sex-selection abortion in violation of the guidelines can be fined about $255 US, which is considerable for most women who live in economic squalor.

Hospitals or doctors who do a sex-selection abortion on a woman can face fines ranging from about $630 to $1,250 and the local government will confiscate the from the abortion practitioner the cost of the abortion.

The new rules also prohibit the sale of abortion drugs and family planning officials will obtain the drugs that are currently on store shelves throughout the province.

In September a report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found the gender imbalance rose to 121 males were born for every 100 females in 2004. The rate was 117 boys to every 100 girls in 2000.

China instituted the coercive family planning policy in 1979 and Chinese women and families have been the victims of an intense campaign ever since that has involved forced abortions and sterilizations, and the arrest and harassment of those who resist it.

But the policy has caused the gender imbalance to explode.

In 1982, there were 109 boys for every 100 girls in China, but the figures rose to 111 to 100 in 1990 and have been climbing ever since.

Ironically, China distributed ultrasound machines to local clinics on a wide scale after the coercive family planning policy was instituted to ensure women were not pregnant and violating the one-child program.

China has attempted to crack down on this use by prohibiting the ultrasound machines from being used unless medical reasons warrant it. Some clinics have lost their machines and other facilities and doctors have been fined or jailed as a result.

Chinese officials failed in June to approve a nationwide ban on sex-selection abortions, but the nation is still planning to continue its crackdown.

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.

China’s gender imbalance 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.

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.