China restricts abortions for non-medical purposes

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China has issued new guidelines restricting the number of abortions performed for non-medical purposes.

The State Council, China’s cabinet said on Monday, that the new guidelines would aim to improve women’s overall access to pre-pregnancy healthcare services.

The country has already enacted strict measures aimed at preventing sex-selective abortions, and health authorities also warned in 2018 that the use of abortion to end unwanted pregnancies was harmful to women’s bodies and risks causing infertility.

Move comes as China introduces new policies aimed at encouraging families to have more children amid concerns over a decline in birthrates.

According to the National Health Commission data showed, “Between 2014 and 2018, there had been an average of 9.7 million abortions per year, rising about 51 percent from the 2009-2013 average despite a relaxation of family planning policies in 2015. The data did not specify how many abortions were for medical reasons.

“It was not immediately clear whether Monday’s new measures were designed at addressing China’s declining birth rate, which think tanks and policy researchers have identified as one of its major social policy challenges in the coming decades.”

Although China remains the world’s most populous nation, the latest census showed population growth from 2011 to 2020 was the slowest since the 1950s, and was expected to slow even more within a few years.

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