Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

China Outlaws Sex-Screening Beijing Follows India's Lead to Prevent Mass Abortion of Girl Fetuses

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

China Outlaws Sex-Screening Beijing Follows India's Lead to Prevent Mass Abortion of Girl Fetuses

Article excerpt

Following India's lead, China will outlaw sex-screening of unborn children and will prohibit couples carrying serious genetic diseases from having children. The restrictions will take effect in January.

"We have a clearly stated policy not to give identification of fetuses, so we have made it illegal to give tests," said Health Minister Chen Minzhang. One provision of the new law forbids sex identification of a fetus by technical means, except when needed on medical grounds. Doctors who perform such tests, which are not difficult, could lose their licenses.

Asked how this article would be enforced, Chen said anyone, including hospital staff or the family of the person involved, had the right to report such an illegal test.

Due to a tradition of preferring sons to daughters, some parents, allowed only one child, choose to abort rather than give birth to a baby that tests show will be a girl.

The ban aims to protect the status of females, one official said.

Such tests have become increasingly popular due to the strict one-child policy and the preference of millions of couples for a boy over a girl, which is leading to a rising imbalance in the population.

The new law also bans marriage for people diagnosed with a serious genetic disease considered medically inappropriate for bearing children, unless the parents agree to sterilization or long-term contraceptive measures.

Chen said the aim was not to stop retarded people from having children but to prevent the transmission of genetic illnesses to the next generation.

"The issue is whether the illness will be transmitted and whether it is serious," he said.

He noted that one provision of the law defines genetic defects as those that "may totally or partially deprive the victim of the ability to live independently, that are highly possible to recur in generations to come and that are medically considered inappropriate for reproduction. …

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