Shandong county denies ‘abortion quotas’

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-26 20:28:01

But village officials describe paying bribes to hit targets


Some local officials in Lanling county in Shandong Province had a stressful April, because they had to figure out how to meet an "abortion quota" assigned by their leaders.

They were asked to ensure a certain number of women, forbidden from having a second child under China's family planning policy, had abortions.

The request was unsavory, and some officials asked to resign, but were not allowed.

The local officials finally figured out a way to solve their problem - by getting information from a middleman about women who had abortions on their accords.

Officials would hand these women's abortion certificates to the family planning bureau, in order to meet their quotas.

This is according to a May 22 report in, a Shanghai-based media outlet famous for reporting on political and social issues.

However, the Lanling government says the report is "inaccurate," reported. Moreover,  the health authorities of Linyi, which administrate Lanling county, said that they have yet to receive any complaints about an "abortion quota," and they will investigate the case.

The case has attracted a lot of attention, with the public urging the government to give more details and questioning the cause of the incident.

Meeting monthly targets

"We did not assign any quotas for abortions to villages and counties. We only asked them to take remedial actions to persuade women [breaking the policy] who have been pregnant for less than five months to have an abortion," a deputy director of the family planning bureau in Lanling surnamed Bao told the Global Times.

Four officials from different villages in Lanling confirmed to that officials have to ensure one abortion for every 1,000 villagers, and each of them was assigned a quota of two to eight abortions in April.

A village official in Luozhuang district in Linyi surnamed Zhang contradicted Bao's account, telling the Global Times that they had a quota to have certain number of women get abortions in the village. The official, who requested to be anonymous, added, "More than 70 percent of the quota for May has been met."

Village official Xiao Xu (pseudonym) from Lanling told the Global Times that his village had been told to meet a quota of one abortion in April and four in May.

 Unmarried women or married women who do not meet the condition of having a second child according to China's family planning policy should have an abortion, according to the alleged regulation by Linyi government, described by Xiao Xu and confirmed by a doctor from a local hospital.

Xiao Xu explained that in order to meet the quotas, some officials buy the names of women who already had abortions and count them toward their targets. The officials pay between 5,000 yuan ($800) and 10,000 yuan for the information, he said. A resident in Linyi confirmed this account to the Global Times.

"Officials who have not met their quotas would be punished and in order to meet the quotas, we have to pay the money for doctors or middlemen for the abortion information out of our own pocket," said Xiao Xu.

Sometimes, officials take more severe measures. Another employee of a hospital in Linyi, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times, "The family planning bureau asked the hospital to check the identity of women who come to get a pregnancy test in the hospital."

Officials use the names to check up on whether the women meet guidelines to have another child. "Some pregnant women who are not married, or who are having a second child, are accompanied by officials to the hospital have an abortion," she said.

Policy under fire

"Linyi did poorly in the assessment of family planning work in 2014, and this brought lots of pressure to the local government. That's why it began to assign abortion quotas to officials," Xiao Xu said.

Xiao Xu said that in order to pressure residents who violate the family planning policy to have abortions, the local family planning bureau would often inflate the fine that the woman would need to pay to keep her child to two or three times the standard amount.

Another resident, in the Lanshan district in Linyi, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that clashes often happened between the family planning bureau and residents during the enforcement of the family planning policy. Xiao Xu confirmed this account to the Global Times.

The Lanling government responded to report by saying the county has a large population of 1.3 million and a high birth rate in recent years.

This in not the first time Linyi has been in the limelight over controversial tactics by its family planning bureau.

In December 2014, local media reported that officials seized a 10-month-old baby in an effort to pressure the parents to pay the penalty for having a child outside the family planning rules.

The Lanling government responded by saying that with a population of 11 million in Linyi, the city faces a lot of pressure to keep the population down, but promised to curb any rough behavior when implementing family planning policies, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The family planning policy was enacted in 1980 to limit population growth by restricting married couples from having a second child.

In November 2013, the central government eased the policy by allowing couples to have a second child if one of the parents is an only child.

In recent years, more experts have called for a significant loosening of restrictions of the policy.

Over 50 experts submitted a joint letter in March to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and State Council to suggest abolishing the fertility approval system.

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