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Abortion tally in ‘one-child’ China approaching 330 million since ’71

AFP-JIJI

Nearly 330 million abortions have been performed in China in the 40 years since it first took measures to limit population growth in the world’s most populous nation, official data showed.

China has announced structural changes to its family planning system, which oversees the controversial one-child policy, during the ongoing annual meeting of the national legislature in Beijing.

Data posted on the Health Ministry website earlier this year show that from 1971 — shortly before China started encouraging people to have fewer children — through 2010, a total of 328.9 million abortions were carried out in the country, which has a population of 1.3 billion.

China says that its one-child policy introduced in the early 1980s has prevented overpopulation and boosted economic development. The policy exempts some rural families, ethnic minorities and couples in which both spouses are only children.

Calls have increased, however, for the restriction to be phased out because the country’s labor pool is shrinking while the ranks of the elderly swell. Human rights groups have criticized what they say are harsh enforcement methods.

Under the policy, urban families are generally allowed to have just one child, while rural families may have a second if the first is a girl. Those who contravene the rules must pay a fine.