Thirteen Million Abortions A Year in China, Report Says

July 30, 2009 - 7:42 AM
China performs about 13 million abortions every year, mostly for single young women who experts say know little about contraception, state media said Thursday in a rare disclosure of sensitive family planning statistics.
Beijing (AP) - China performs about 13 million abortions every year, mostly for single young women who experts say know little about contraception, state media said Thursday in a rare disclosure of sensitive family planning statistics.
 
The China Daily newspaper said the real number of abortions is believed to be even higher since the 13 million accounts for procedures in hospitals but many more are known to be carried out in unregistered rural clinics. Also, about 10 million abortion pills are sold every year in China, the paper said.
 
It quoted Wu Shangchun, a government official with the National Population and Family Planning Commission, as saying that nearly half of the women seeking abortions in China had used no form of contraception.
 
China imposed strict birth controls in the 1970s, limiting most couples to just one child. Sterilization and the use of intrauterine devices, or IUDs, for women are widely promoted -- and subsidized -- forms of contraception for married women.
 
However, the policy tends to overlook the contraception needs of unmarried women even as attitudes toward casual sex have dramatically liberalized.
 
The report said about 62 percent of the women undergoing abortions were single and aged between 20 and 29 years old.
 
It called the widespread use of abortions "an unfortunate situation" but did not directly say whether abortions were on the rise. No year-to-year statistics were given.
 
Wu told the paper that reducing the number of abortions was a tough challenge facing the country.
 
A call to Wu's mobile phone rang unanswered Thursday. Chang Yongjie, an official with the commission's Science and Technology Research Center, said he was not able to confirm or comment on the report. He said no one else was available because most of the commission's staff had just gone on a two-week holiday.
 
Peking University professor, Li Ying, was quoted as saying that sex education needed to be improved at the university level and that Chinese parents also needed to teach their kids more about sex.
 
The government says its family planning controls since the 1970s -- including contraception, sterilization and abortion procedures -- have prevented an additional 400 million births in the world's most populous country of 1.3 billion.
 
About 1.2 million women have abortions each year in the United States, which has a population of just more than 300 million people.