A Chinese city is planning to fine women who have children out of wedlock - a policy which opponents say will lead to more abandoned children.

The plans, drawn up by family planning officials in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, would target women who "knowingly have children out of wedlock", according to a report in the Global Times newspaper.

Unmarried mothers could be charged six times the annual per capita disposable income in Wuhan, a figure equivalent to about $26,000. Officials referred to the fines as "social compensation fees". 

Chinese state media said the law would help keep the birth rate low and aid family planning management.
The law was announced just days after a newborn baby boy was rescued from a sewage pipe in Zhejiang province. Reports suggest that the unmarried mother was shunned by the father, such is the social stigma of single parenthood in China.

Chen Yaya, of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, warned there could be more "sewer babies" if the policy is enacted.

Wang Qiong, a professor at Wuhan University, told the China Daily the regulation was "ridiculous".

"What if a woman chooses to have a test tube baby without getting married? Should she also be fined?"

The Global Times said that the fines would target unmarried women who cannot prove the identity of the father of their child, or those who have a baby with men who they know have spouses.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies