China to penalise selective abortion

A new Chinese law calls for prison terms of up to three years and fines for doctors and other health workers who assist in telling the gender of unborn babies, leading to abortions.

    Government figures show 119 boys are born for every 100 girls

    The legal amendment would give new teeth to a government campaign to outlaw the selective abortion of female foetuses and correct an imbalance in the ratio of boys to girls that has grown since China's one-child policy was introduced more than 20 years ago.

    An Jian, a member of China's parliament who discussed the amendment over the weekend, was quoted as saying: "The revision is aimed to prevent the selection of a child's gender when not conducted for medical purposes."

    "Artificial gender selection can jeopardise China's population structure, leading to social instability," An wrote in a report.

    Government figures show 119 boys are born for every 100 girls in the world's most populous nation.

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    Chinese tradition favours sons
    for carrying the family name

    The Chinese tradition of preference for sons - seen as carrying the family name and being able to provide for their parents in old age - was bolstered after the one-child policy was introduced to curb China's population, now over 1.3 billion.

    Sex-selective abortion is banned, but ultrasound has made it easier to know a baby's gender in advance, increasing the chances for aborting girls.

    "The amendment specifies that anyone who assists others with gender selection will face heavy fines and a three-year jail sentence," the China Daily said.

    China has vowed to reverse the trend of its gender imbalance by 2010. It previously launched a tentative scheme to pay moderate pensions to rural parents with no sons and educate them that "girls are as good as boys".

    SOURCE: Reuters


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