China’s pledge to limit abortions puts women’s bodies under the state’s control just as the one-child policy did and could endanger the lives of women seeking abortions, rights groups have said.
The Chinese government announced on Monday that it would seek to reduce abortions for “non-medical reasons” – a move seen as being in line with its attempts to accelerate birthrates.
Government guidelines did not provide detail on what constitutes a non-medical abortion.
Yaqiu Wang, China researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: “This government in the past 40 years has tried to restrict women’s reproductive rights, making women forcefully abort their children and now restricting abortions. I don’t know what non-medical means, but everyone who knows Chinese government knows this isn’t good.
“The core of the policy is the same – to restrict women’s reproductive means, to see women as a tool. Now there’s an ageing population, a not large enough labour force, so we need more babies. It’s the same: seeing women as a tool for economic goals.”
Yaqiu Wang said what the government defined as non-medical reasons and how the rules would be implemented was unclear, but that the move could endanger the lives of women who were denied abortions. “Around the world a lot of women die from not having safe access to abortions,” she said.
Amnesty’s China researcher Kai Ong, said: “The Chinese government has a record of enforcing birth policies that blatantly violate reproductive rights, such as implementing forced birth control measures and limiting women’s access to healthcare. This announcement could further restrict women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, especially for unmarried women and same-sex couples.
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