China’s complex abortion problem

20 APR 2022

Recent official pronouncements in China have sparked speculation that tighter restrictions on abortion may be in the offing. Six months ago, the Chinese State Council issued guidelines to lower the number of abortions performed for non-medical reasons. And in February, China's family-planning association announced that the authorities would launch a special abortion intervention campaign to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions among teenagers.

But these official interventions, under the guise of "enhancing women's reproductive health", are in fact a response to China's growing fertility crisis. The one-child policy, which was implemented nationwide in 1980, forced down China's fertility rate for two generations, and the introduction of the two-child policy in 2016 has failed to boost it. Even according to the inflated official figures, China's fertility rate was only 1.3 children per woman in 2020 and 1.1-1.2 children per woman last year, well below the rates of 1.8, 1.7, and 1.5 predicted by the Chinese authorities, the United Nations, and the US Census Bureau, respectively.


China says it’s restricting abortions to promote gender equality. Experts are skeptical

Analysis by Jessie Yeung and Nectar Gan, CNN

Fri October 1, 2021

Hong Kong (CNN) For decades, Chinese authorities imposed strict limits on families that forced millions of women to abort pregnancies deemed illegal by the state.

That harsh practice has become less common since China relaxed its one-child policy in 2015. So when news emerged this week that the government wants to reduce abortions for "non-medical reasons," the backlash was swift and furious.


Abortion pledge adds to scepticism over women’s rights in China

Analysis: plan to reduce abortions as birthrates plunge draws comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale

Helen Davidson in Taipei
Wed 29 Sep 2021

Far-reaching proposals from Beijing on “women’s development” have sparked concern over a pledge to reduce abortions, with feminists and academics pointing to the government’s history of control over women’s reproductive rights.

On Monday China’s state council published its latest 10-year outline for women’s development. The lengthy document contained guidelines for China’s gender-based policy, but it was a short phrase that caught particular attention: a pledge to “reduce abortions conducted for non-medical reasons”.


China restricts abortions for ‘non-medical purposes’

Move comes as China introduces new policies aimed at encouraging families to have more children amid concerns over a decline in birthrates.

27 Sep 2021

China has issued new guidelines restricting the number of abortions performed for “non-medical purposes”.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, published the new rules on Monday.


An aging China is going to make it harder for women to get abortions

By Jane Li & Tripti Lahiri
Published September 27, 2021

For decades, abortion was freely available to women in China. In fact, as a tool of the one-child policy, it was traumatically forced on women to make them conform to the state’s need to reduce the population.

But now that China is far more worried about its shrinking population, it seems to be reversing course and moving towards more carefully controlling how woman access abortion. In other words, abortion will continue to be a tool of state policy in China—it’s just that the policy has changed.


China to clamp down on abortions for ‘non-medical purposes’

Policy uses women as tool for economic goals and could endanger their lives, says rights group

Kaamil Ahmed
Mon 27 Sep 2021

China’s pledge to limit abortions puts women’s bodies under the state’s control just as the one-child policy did and could endanger the lives of women seeking abortions, rights groups have said.

The Chinese government announced on Monday that it would seek to reduce abortions for “non-medical reasons” – a move seen as being in line with its attempts to accelerate birthrates.


China – Xinjiang Hospitals Aborted, Killed Babies Outside Family Planning Limits: Uyghur Obstetrician

Radio Free Asia

Hospitals in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) were forced to abort and kill babies born in excess of family planning limits or who were in utero less than three years after the mother’s previous birth, according to a Uyghur obstetrician and other sources.

Hasiyet Abdulla, who currently lives in Turkey, worked in multiple hospitals in Xinjiang over the course of 15 years, including the XUAR Hospital of Traditional Uyghur Medicine.


China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

By The Associated Press
June 30, 2020

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”


China is forcibly sterilizing Uighur women and giving them unwanted abortions

Bill Bostock
June 29, 2030

New evidence has come to light exposing the draconian tactics Chinese authorities are using to persecute Uighur Muslims, including forced abortions, birth control, and sterilization.

An Associated Press report published on Monday cited interviews with 30 former prisoners, family members, and a former detention-camp instructor, as well as government statistics and state documents.


CHINA – One Child Nation: documentary film

CHINA – One Child Nation: documentary film

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Nov 8, 2019

Filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang provide a very personal history of China’s one-child policy and how several generations of parents and children have been affected by the enforced policy of one-child families from 1979 to 2015. This powerful and controversial documentary, in English and Mandarin, shows the policy to be a cruel and tragic experiment in big-government meddling in the composition of families by the state whose after-effects persist. Women were forced to have abortions, there were forced sterilisations, babies were abandoned, but at the same time government policy aimed to reduce population growth in a country dealing with extreme poverty among a quarter of the world’s population. ‘We are fighting a population war’ was a common slogan used by the government during that period. Part of how the policy was promoted was through a propaganda culture created around an idealised one-child family: on playing cards, stickers, posters and in travelling opera performances. Nanfu Wang returns to her natal village to interview members of her own family and neighbours about how the policy affected them personally.

SOURCES: Official Trailer ; National Public Radio USA, 17 August 2019 ; Guardian, by Peter Bradshaw, 25 September 2019 ; Human Rights Watch