Chinese authorities said they would reduce the number of abortions conducted for “non-medical reasons” at a time when the country is introducing several measures to boost its declining birth rates.
China’s cabinet, the State Council, issued the new guideline Monday, which was part of a key document outlining the development of women and children for the coming decade. Officials said reducing abortions related to non-medical purposes was aimed at “enhancing women’s reproductive health.”
Though abortion is legal in China, the country has banned sex-selective abortions since 2001, as a preference for sons led some women to terminate pregnancies when they discovered they were pregnant with a girl.
In 2018, China’s National Health Commission said around 9 million abortions were performed in the country annually. The country’s top health authority said most women who came to terminate their pregnancies were often young and single, with some having undergone repeated abortions.
Authorities blamed the lack of knowledge and limited access to contraception for the rise in unwanted pregnancies and abortions, according to the 2018 document published by the health authority.
“Consultation or guidance services for young people on contraceptives are not scientific enough, and as a result, people are not taking highly effective contraceptive measures,” it then said.
Monday’s guideline also encourages the use and availability of more contraception services for both women and men, adding that unwanted pregnancies should be prevented.
China’s latest guideline on abortions is likely another step for the country to tackle its declining birth rates, though Monday’s document didn’t specify the exact reason for the latest move. Lately, both the central and local governments have rolled out various measures to encourage more births, including financial incentives and the introduction of the three-child policy earlier this year.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: People Visual)