China's toughens law on sex-selective abortions

Beijing: Individuals and organisations that conduct medically inessential prenatal sex discernment or sex-selective abortions will be fined up to 30,000 yuan (about $4,600), under a revised regulation taking effect from Sunday. Besides a fine, the government will confiscate their income from such screenings and abortions, which are illegal in China, Xinhua news agency reported. Those who introduce expectant parents to take up illegal prenatal sex discernment and selective abortion will also face the same punishment, according to the regulation jointly issued on Saturday by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the China Food and Drug Administration. The revision to the law aims to tackle China's high gender imbalance, a direct result of pre-birth sex discernment and sex-selective abortions driven by cultural preference for sons. The birth sex ratio stood at 113.51 in 2015, much higher than a normal ratio between 103 and 107, though it has decreased from 121.18 in 2004. In China, legitimate reasons for a hospital conducting a sex-selective abortion include serious genetic disease or deadly threat to the mother's health. It requires at least three senior doctors with a genetics background and clinical experience to decide whether prenatal sex discernment is necessary. If an abortion is necessary, the hospital must report the case to the local health department. Retail pharmacies are not allowed to sell abortion medicines. Under the new regulation, pharmaceutical firms will face a fine between 10,000 and 30,000 yuan for selling ultrasound devices and devices for chromosome identification to unqualified institutions or individuals. Advertisers will also be punished for publishing ads for illegal prenatal sex discernment and selective abortion services. Prevention of illegal prenatal sex discernment and selective abortions will be considered in family planning officials' performance assessments. The government agencies behind the revised regulation welcomed the public to inform on violations, and promised rewards for doing so.