As of July 2010, China’s population grew to an estimated 1.33 billion, making it the most populated country in the world. China’s ever-growing population prompted its government to implement the controversial “one-child” policy in 1979, which imposes a heavy fine to couples if they have a supernumerary child without a permit. Those who follow the law receive rewards and benefits. With no policy overturn in sight, as of 2010, Chinese couples continue to take birth control methods available to them.
Intra-uterine devices (IUDs) are the most common form of birth control in China, accounting for 46 percent of contraceptives used. Typically, a Chinese woman only starts to use IUD after she has her first child, and until the child has survived the first week after birth. In China, they cut the strings located at the end of the IUD so that the mother cannot pull them out. China promotes the use of IUD both in urban and rural areas, with married women receiving subsidies from the government.
More Chinese women prefer taking pills to any other form of birth control methods. They often opt for the “paper pill,” which is a once-a-month treatment. The paper pill decreases the risks of a woman forgetting to take the pill, which is common with daily dosage. The pill is less cumbersome, more affordable and poses fewer risks than other forms of contraception.
Many Chinese women also prefer to use birth control injections, which has a 99 percent success rate of preventing pregnancy. Norplant prevents pregnancy for up to five years; however, it is not accessible to all women, especially with those who have limited financial resources. The Chinese government is making an effort to make birth control injections more accessible by providing subsidies to married women so that they can afford this form of contraception.
Many Chinese view sterilization as passé, preferring oral contraceptives instead. In China, when a woman gives birth to her second child, she becomes a candidate for sterilization. Sterilization is more common in women, accounting for 38 percent of contraception methods used, while male sterilization only accounts for 8 percent.
China passed a law in Gansu Province in 1988 that requires people with a low IQ (49 and lower) to have sterilization. Other provinces followed suit. There have been reports of forced sterilizations of people who have disabilities, especially the handicapped, as stipulated by The Maternal Infant Health Care Law, established in 1994, also known as the Eugenics Law. Forcing women to obtain sterilization is a common practice, according to the 1998 hearing transcripts titled “Forced Abortions and Sterilization in China: The View from the Inside” from the archives of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on International Relations. In some cases, because of poorly administered sterilizations, women may suffer infections and may die.
According to CNN, a staggering 13 million abortions a year happen in China. Most abortions recipients are single women. More than half never used contraceptives. Hospitals, clinics (unregistered and registered), mobile (van) clinics perform the abortions. The abortion pill RU486 is legal in China, selling at 10 million pills a year.
The “one-child” policy contributed to the dramatic rise of abortions in China. In many cases, a married woman may undergo abortions more than once in her lifetime. According to “U.S. News and World Report” magazine, most abortions happen even after the sixth month of pregnancy, if the baby is not within the plan.
- chinese baby image by chinatiger from Fotolia.com