2022-02-17 11:11:32

The China Family Planning Association on Tuesday clarified that its plan to “intervene” in abortions was intended to help teenagers avoid health risks and social challenges associated with unintended pregnancy and abortion, domestic media reported.

The state-backed body announced plans to intervene in abortion among unmarried women and teenagers in its 2022 work plan published last month, triggering discussions on whether the move intended to boost the country’s declining birth rates. The association said their decision was aimed at “improving” women’s reproductive health while promoting “a new positive culture of marriage and parenting.”

“Many teenagers and unmarried young women have weak economic foundations and have low family support,” officials from the association told reporters Tuesday. “Unintended pregnancies and abortions will negatively impact their physical and mental health and social life.”

Abortion is legal in China, with an estimated 9.76 million women undergoing procedures in 2019, according to an article published in the Chinese Journal of Practical Gynecology and Obstetric last year.

Officials from the family planning association told reporters Tuesday that teenagers and unmarried women under the age of 24 accounted for over 40% of all abortions annually, with 19% of them having repeated abortions.

Last year, the association also warned of an increase in induced abortions among Chinese women over the years. Medical experts say such abortions could result in drastic hormonal changes, affect uterine and ovarian functions, and lead to depression and anxiety issues.

The family planning association said it has continuously raised awareness among students about unprotected sex and abortions through campaigns at universities. Referring to one of its campaigns, the association said hospitals nearby universities in the eastern city of Ningbo reported a 10% drop in young women seeking abortion between 2015 and 2019.

Meanwhile, abortion services for teens remain easily accessible in the country, with hospitals only requiring parental consent or an accompanying adult to perform the surgery.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Moment/VCG)