Photos: Teenage Abortions in China; Statistics show China has the largest number of abortions globally thanks to one child policy and lack of sex education to Chinese teenagers


Chinese Society  Updated:Sun, Jan 13, 2013 07:35 AM   By Bernd Chang


Official statistics released in 2008 show that China has the largest number of abortions in the world thanks to the one child policy. But scholars are pointing to a new factor: teenagers and young women under the age of 25, who contribute six million abortions anually due to lack of adequate sex education

Exact statistics on the number of abortions performed annually in China are hard to come by as not all abortions are registered and Family Planning statistics were often considered state secrets. Statistics released by the Research Institute of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission in 2008 show that at least 13 million abortions are conducted each year in China, or about 25 for every minute, which makes China lead the world on number of abortions by big margin ahead the second title holder India (6.5 million abortions annually according to The Times of India, or about 1.2 million in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute).

And the number 13 million is not all abortions conducted in China. It is estimated that besides the 13 million recorded abortions, additional 10 million abortions are performed privately with pills sold or conducted at underground or unregistered clinics every year.

Rampant abortion advertisement accross the country deepens the concept that abortion does no harm the health

Completely different from some European countries where abortion is legally forbidden, China, having strict birth control as its national policy since late 1970s, not only legitimize, but also encourage abortion for Chinese females of all ages, and sometimes even conducts forced abortion and sterilization of its female citizens.

Backed by the One-child Policy, abortion in China is not only legal but easily done. There is also virtually no restriction on abortion service advertisements, which have penetrated to every corner of China: on TV, on Radio, on magazine, on newspaper, on websites, on streets bulletin board, and on electricity poles.

Most Chinese women have no sense of killing lives when they have their unborned babies abortioned out of own will or forced to do so, not to mention the doctors and nurses that perform the abortions.

Teenage abortion is rising rapidly thanks to sexual freedom among and lack of sex education to the younger generation

For a long time, the high number of abortions in China was largely ascribed to its one-child policy. But scholars are pointing to a new factor: teenagers and young women under the age of 25, who contribute six million abortions every year, according to a survey by the research institute. And the trend is teenage abortion or teen abortion is on the rise.

For these unmarried women, the social stigma of raising an illegitimate child due to the one-child policy, the financial difficulty of raising a child and the lack of adoption services means that aborting their unborned babies after getting pregnant is almost the only way out.

This new factor highlights how young Chinese are increasingly seizing on fast-growing personal freedoms, including sexual freedoms. But parents, and society more broadly, including schools, still remain reluctant to talk about sex, which exposes young people to risk.

One result is that young people simply don’t know how to use contraceptives or the damage that can be caused by abortions. Many young people encounter obstacles when it comes to getting information. For example they are shy about discussing it, or they worry they will be discovered by their parents, teachers or friends.

Chinese begin to discuss sex topic more openly

Yet gradually people are beginning to talk more openly about what had long often been discussed only in private. Some novelists are leading the way. In 2009, Mo Yan, who recently received the Nobel in literature, published “Frog,” based on the experiences of his aunt, an obstetrician who provided abortions under the state’s strict family planning policies that began in 1979.

The official Global Times' report in May of 2012, citing a study conducted by professionals in a maternity hospital in Beijing which shows that almost half of women who request abortions there are teenagers, called for better sex education for Chinese youngsters.

Li Yinhe, a sociology professor and one of the most famous Chinese sex experts, said that the shocking statistics are due to a lack of adequate sex education.

"Abortion, especially teenage abortion is very harmful to women's health, which could bring many after effects, like habitual abortion," said Li, adding that women need full information about the possible adverse affects of having abortions.

Schools, parents and government organizations should work together to help teenagers take sex seriously, said Li.

"It's difficult to teach sex education all over the country. Educators all complain that they lack textbooks, teaching hours and teacher training [in the subject]," she said.

Source of the pictures: Netease/
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