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Abortion in China and India

The countries of Asia have always been marked with some specific peculiarities. Therefore, one can easily find some common features between India and China. First of all, both countries experienced a quite rapid economic development in the last century. Even though, China has achieved a much better economic level than India, one cannot deny some considerable advances in the Indian economy. The rapid development of India has started since the end of the 20th century. The development of China was predetermined not only by the well-known textile and metallurgy but also by electronics and oil refining industries. However, the economic development of any country is often closely interconnected with its social life. In both China and India, the density of population predetermines some similarities in the population-regulative policies. The density of population of India is approximately 375 people per km2. The density of population of China is approximately 640 people per km2. As compared to the US with the density of 32 people per km2, the numbers are very high. First of all, this issue makes the population regulation policies quite strict and urgent in China and India. As a result, the most outstanding social problem that is common to both countries is abortion and it is encouraged by the governments. The aim of this paper is to study the consequences of the government policies in the area of population regulation and prove that the existing policies and mainly sex-selective abortion not only contribute to the population decrease but also deprive the respective societies of harmonious and balanced development due to the growing disproportion between the numbers of the females and males.

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Evidence for China

For Chinese women, abortion is not a problem. It is even supported by the government, which tries to decrease the constantly growing population in the country. Abortions are closely associated with the biological complications and different reproductive health issues; moreover, they raise the moral, ethical, and religious issues. In addition, for the Chinese society, the most serious problem is not the violation of the human rights, but the encouragement of the unrestricted sexual behavior. As a result, abortion becomes a serious problem on the biological, emotional, and social levels.

In 2009, China had the highest abortion rates in the world. The annual rates of abortions in this country reaches 13 million; this figures let the scholars estimate that the average number of females doing the abortion is 24 per 1000. Among them, 62% are single females at the age of 20-29. At the same time, the tendency to do abortions was reported in the younger females, whose age can reach even 13 years old. Single abortions are quite rare while the repeated ones are very common and fall for 50% of women. The researches show that 30% of such cases happen in females, who are under 22 years of age and attend college.

A considerable sex imbalance in the country is obviously a result of the high statistics of abortions. Being caused by selective abortion and historical stereotypes about sex, the behavior of the Chinese is supported by the government. Since the 1980s, the ratio of imbalance has grown considerably from 108,5 to 122 in 2010 while the normal indicator is 105. Such rates are quite threatening to the country as they are higher than in the world; moreover, they are growing and making the problem even more urgent.

Evidence for India

The problems of the Indian society do not cede much to the Chinese ones. Although the government emphasizes that the availability of the safe abortions in India is guaranteed to all women, the abortion can hardly be considered a safe operation. In 2008, the number of abortions reached 450,000 and is still growing. Already in 2010, this number increased to 622,000 and to 637, 000 in 2012.

The influence on the female health caused by such policy is disruptive. Consequently, the female fertility rates have fallen, especially in the urban areas. Usually, the Indian women choose the medical abortions performed by the means of various drugs or avoid public clinics, at all. As a result, the statistics of 26 cases out of 1000 cannot be considered reliable; they should be at least doubled.

In India, the abortion rates are high in the adolescents aged. According to the statistics, all unmarried adolescents are not willing to raise a child alone; therefore, they choose to terminate the pregnancy. At the same time, 18% of such pregnancies are nonconsensual; this fact is a sufficient evidence of the difficult position of the females in the country. Finally, most son preference abortions are made after the second trimester. The number of such abortions has reached 26%. Consequently, nowadays, sex imbalance in India is approximately 100:120. These unnatural practices are the disruption of society due to imbalance that does not let it develop in harmony.

Structural Factors in China

The Chinese population comprises around 1.4 billion people. It is approximately one-fifth of the current number of all people on Earth. Consequently, the reproduction rates are very high. As a result, the Chinese government had to introduce a family planning policy (FPP) in around the 1970s.

In this case, the main structural factor is the state policy. Because of the FPP, abortions have become a regular practice for women in China. It limits the urban families to having only one child and rural families to two if the first child was a girl. As a result, abortions became more legal. The procedure has even become a standard in all Chinese hospitals.

The second factor originates from the old Chinese traditions and views. In the past, two main views on children have developed. Firstly, a bigger number of boys in the family meant better luck for it. Secondly, the Chinese society is based on the strong belief that women are inferior to men. Therefore, most Chinese families, especially those from the farmlands consider that they need to have a boy in order to prolong the family line.

When they were limited by the “One-child policy,” women needed to use any medical technologies to find out the sex of the unborn child. This practice has drastically changed the boy-to-girl rate. In 2002, the government implemented the ban on the fetus’ sex recognition and abortions over the fetus sex. In order to limit and relax the abortion rates, they eased the “One-child policy,” but it could not be called off. As a result, the majority of the Chinese people do not oppose abortion considering it a private issue.

Structural Factors in India

Although many developing countries support the illegalization of abortion, in India, it is legal. Liberalization of 1971 should have become one of the best alternatives to decrease the constantly growing population. However, the abortion legalization was not a well-balanced decision as even though it aimed to decrease the population growth, it did not consider the number of threats caused by the procedure.

Poverty is among the main reasons for the high abortion rates. In such a manner, at least 25% of people in India live below the poverty line. The high level of the diversification shows very different rates among the states. In contrast to China, the contraceptive usage by the female in the urban area reaches 61% while sterilization accounts for two-thirds of the possible contraception especially in the married women.

Among some other reasons that are considered the most influential in terms of the abortions growth, one should mark out the historical and cultural stereotypes of the higher value of men. As a result of such beliefs, sex-selective abortion leads to killing of the female unborn children. Moreover, Boler’s research emphasized such crucial factors as support of the abortion by the society and community and release of unnecessary cost troubles. According to Stillman et al., some other most common reasons for terminating the pregnancy can be a limitation of the family size or young age of the last child.

However, the decision to give birth or make an abortion is mostly made by a man instead of a woman. Such factor proves that the female position in the society is much weaker than the male one. As a result, the growth of the male-female imbalance becomes a real threat for women.

Efforts to Reduce the Social Problem in China

The governmental efforts to keep the definite number of the population have been quite strong. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China of 1978 claimed to promote and implement a family planning policy. The present Constitution of the country also indicates that the population growth can fit the plans of the economic and social development only in the case of fulfilling the policy. Therefore, it obliges both a husband and a wife to perform their duties of following the family planning policy by using contraception. The state birth control policy causes induced abortions as “The Population and Family Planning Law” obliges couples of reproductive age to use different means of contraception and allows them to have one child, not two or more. It can be considered a discrimination of their reproductive rights. However, the government opposing the regulations mentioned above implements some laws. For instance, the “Labor Law” protects a pregnant woman and her fetus in different aspects of life. For instance, the “Law of Succession of the People’s Republic of China” gives priority to a pregnant female during partitioning of the estate as a share goes to a child after its birth. “Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China” and “Criminal Procedure Law” protect a pregnant woman from a death penalty at a time of the trial.

Along with the government, both the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) are attempting to solve the problem of abortions. A good example is the DKT International, a Washington D.C.-based charitable organization producing the modern contraceptive products accessible for families with the low income in order to not only assist them in fulfilling their family-planning program but also protect them from the HIV and AIDS. The aim of the organizations’ plan is to provide the high-risk and vulnerable social groups such as migrant workers with the qualitative and inexpensive condoms. The Chinese government is claimed to facilitate these NGOs supportive to its programs, though it is not so especially if it goes to INGOs. Their activity is limited despite the fact that campaigns abide the existing laws.

Efforts to Reduce the Social Problem in India

The only legitimate document that reveals all the issues of abortion in India is called the “Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules and Regulations” of 1975. It puts into operation the MPT Act, which defines all the demands and outlines the procedure of abortion, record-keeping, and reporting. The Indian government has been working hard in order to make the abortion services legal and safe by increasing the number of the legal abortion providers.

In 2002-2003, some amendments to the Act were made, to streamline the private doctors’ registration in order to provide safe abortion services and, given the authority to District Level Committees, create and control the facility inspection deadlines aiming at speeding up the registration and certification of the private facility services. The amendments also define that abortion can be provided up to seven weeks of the pregnancy term. In 2003, they provided practitioners with the right to prescribe medical abortion drugs at the early gestational ages.

In 2010, a guideline on how to provide services of both surgical and medical abortion was issued; it explained the conduction of the pre-abortion consulting and discussed the choices of the abortion method and contraception, as well as advised a better safe abortion service. In order to be approved, the guidelines are to meet the demands of the World Health Organization (WHO). For example, in the case of a medical abortion, the dosage of mifepristone and misoprostol should be pursued; thus, a qualitative service to protect the female’s health and life will be provided.

Another amendment is still expected to be adopted by the Parliament; it will expand the right of providing the abortion services by nurses, midwives, and practitioners who are trained in the Indian System of Medicine. It will also allow the increase in the abortion period up to 12 weeks of the gestational ages and outline the conditions of the pregnancy termination due to the fetal abnormalities. In order to avoid sex discrimination, the government also adopted The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, which forbade the conduction of the antenatal diagnosis tests for determining the sex of the fetus.

To What Extent These Efforts Have Been Successful?

Many people assert that by trying to reduce the growing number of population, the Chinese government has only legalized and triggered the mechanism of absolute sexual freedom and access to abortion for all females.

According to different data, the age of the young girls going through abortion is growing every year. Another issue is the sex-selective abortion, which is not only a violation of all human rights but also a bright example of sex discrimination. However, within the past 30 years, the family planning policy has brought great results in the birth rate decrease, for example, from 33,4% in 1970 to 12,1% in 2012. The natural population growth are also impressive; they decreased from 25,8% in 1970 to 4,95% in 2012. Despite the claims that some laws associated with the family planning policy violate the basic human rights, the program cannot be called off; however, some restrictions should be loosened.

The number of abortions in India varies. According to the official statistics, the number of females taking certified and safe abortion services is growing. In 2001, 723,000 abortions were recorded and 642,000 in2008. In 2011-2012, 621,748 abortions were registered while in 2012-2013, the numbers increased to 636,306. However, these data include neither the private practitioners, who do not have a proper certification for their facilities, nor medical abortions, nor abortions done by the untrained providers.

In an attempt to provide a full number of abortions, the data revealed that 33 per 1,000 women at the age of 15-49 years old used the abortion services in 1994. In 2002, their number decreased to 26 per 1,000 women (approximately 6,4 million).

The government’s policy on safe abortion also claims the decrease in the number of the women deaths; for example, 301 per 100,000 in 2001-2003; 212 – in 2007-2009; 178 – in 2010-2012.

Prediction for the Next Ten Years

The researchers have proved that the social problem of selective abortion and imbalance of births dates back to the end of the 20th century when women received a possibility to know the sex of their unborn children by means of ultrasonography. Since that time, the sex disproportion in India has reached 100:107 and 100:130 in some separate states. The same rate for China is on the average 100:130 on the entire country. Therefore, one can see that, even though, the disproportion in China is obviously higher, the problem is timely for both countries.

In his study, Xiuzhe concluded that the greater number of males in China is likely to lead to about 30 million bachelors by 2020 and cause a series of social problems.

Even though the sex-selective abortion has become illegal, the tendency of the imbalance growth has not eliminated. The doctor, who tells the sex of a child to anyone including the parents is under the threat of incarceration. Nevertheless, such occurrences still take place. Consequently, the most effective weapon against killing the daughters should be convincing parents of the equal value of both sexes. The NGO and the government policies should become the levers in order to influence the situation. However, breaking of the stereotype that has been common for centuries is very difficult, and the statistics shows that it is not successful in the modern society.

Moreover, the rate of the annual population increase in China is more than 9 million people, which can make the population count 1, 46 billion in the 2030th. However, the prevalence of men would not let all people find a couple. Additionally, the law about one child will also stay a considerable restriction. As a result, since that time, the population number will have fallen. 

The similar consequences await India. However, the lack of the similar to China’s one-child policies makes the situation in India less devastating. According to the calculations of the scientists, the population of this country is going to reach 1,747,969,000 people before 2050 or even earlier. However, already now, people can see that such a situation will be accompanied by the cruel treatment of women.

Conclusion

The family and children planning in China and India has both positive and negative consequences to the society. Primarily, the considerable disproportion between the males and females number is the negative effect for the entire population. In this case, not only the moral side of the problem and the human rights dilemma are disputable but also the state of the society that loses the ability to develop more or less in harmony. The legislation of China and the cultural stereotypes regarding the role of sex need to be re-considered in order to avoid a number of negative consequences that already exist and await for both countries in the future. Even though the situation in China seems to be more threatening, the Indian government should pay attention to its social problems in order to avoid the possible global consequences of the sex-selective abortion and find effective means to manage it.

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