China’s family planning roadmap aimed at protecting national fertility, not banning abortion: experts
Published: Feb 11, 2022 12:30 AM
Pregnancy  Photo: VCG

Pregnancy Photo: VCG

The China Family Planning Association recently rolled out its major tasks for 2022 and it raised controversy among the Chinese public, with some questioning whether it meant there might be interventions to prevent those with unwanted pregnancies from having abortions. However, experts explained that the report aimed to protect national fertility and public health by preventing unwilling and unexpected pregnancies, rather than forcibly banning abortions.

The report, which was published on the official website of the association on January 28, has been widely discussed on the internet. Discussion about a campaign of induced abortion interventions for unmarried women has become a trending topic on Weibo, the Chinese twitter-like social media platform.

Article 9 of the report mentions that special efforts will be made to address the reproductive health concerns of specific groups, and that there will be special campaigns to intervene in abortions among unmarried people and adolescents so as to tackle unwanted pregnancies and improve reproductive health.

Huang Wenzheng, a demography expert and senior researcher at the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Thursday that the ideas brought up in this year's report are in line with those from previous years, and the focus is on reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions through soft measures, such as reproductive health education. "This can also be interpreted as one of the concrete measures to protect national fertility, but certainly not to ban abortion," he said. 

He Yafu, an independent demographer, made similar points, adding that the initiative is aimed at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies for unmarried couples, which is in line with the goal that the China Family Planning Association proposed some time ago about improving fertility services, as multiple abortions can lead to infertility, he told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The Outline for Women's Development in China (2021-2030) adopted by the State Council also mentioned reducing non-medically necessary abortions, strengthening the quality assurance of women's health products, and standardizing infertility treatment and human-assisted reproductive technology.

"Induced abortion in China has three characteristics: a large number, a high proportion of repeated abortions, and a large proportion of young women who have not been pregnant before," according to an article published in 2021 in the Chinese Journal of Practical Gynecology and Obstetrics, noting that the annual total of induced abortions has hovered around 9.5 million for the past five years.

Nearly half of the women who miscarry are under 25 years old, reported. In recent years, studies have shown that those aged less than 20 years in China already account for a significant proportion of induced abortions.

According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on January 17, the population of the Chinese mainland had increased by only 480,000 from the end of 2020 with the number of newborns dropping for the fifth consecutive year, mainly due to a continuing decline in the number of women of childbearing age.