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Curbing Morning-After Pills to Combat Sex-Selective Abortions

One city in China has introduced a surprising measure to deal with the consequences of the government’s cruel one-child policy.  It’s cracking down on the morning-after pill.

Bloomberg reports that on December 21, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Fuzhou, the capitol city of Fujian Province, ordered pharmacies to register the names, phone numbers and government identification numbers of women requesting the morning-after pill.

The most popular form of the morning-after pill is levonorgestrel, a birth control pill.  But mifepristone, or the abortion pill RU-486, is also available in small doses as a morning-after pill. Enough doses can induce an abortion.

While abortion is widespread, sex-selected abortions are no longer legal. China’s cultural preference for boys over girls, combined with its cruel one-child policy led to parents choosing to abort their daughters.  In 2010, thirty years after the horrific policy came into effect, China had 118 boys for every 100 girls. The norm is 105 boys to 100 girls.

“As several emergency contraceptive pills contain mifepristone, which can be used as an abortifacient, some private clinics have used them to abort girls because a boy was the preference,” Wu Xingfa, the director of Fuzhou’s FDA told Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Last August Xinhua reported that China’s National Family Planning Commission joined forces with the People’s Liberation Army and the chief law enforcement agency, the Public Security Bureau, to deal with the massive imbalance. They launched a campaign from August, 2011, to March, 2012, to “raise awareness of gender equality, to severely punish those involved in cases of non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions, and to strengthen monitoring.”

The morning-after pill is taken days after sex, before the sex of the baby can be determined. Mifepristone can cause abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

Two other cities in Fujian have introduced similar regulations on morning-after pills.

As expected, critics complain that the regulation will result in women avoiding getting the morning-after pill, leading to more pregnancies and more surgical abortions. Yet other countries have experienced no decrease in pregnancies or abortions when the morning-after pill is easy to obtain.

This article courtesy of Turtle Bay and Beyond.


Wendy Wright is the Interim Executive Director at C-FAM.


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