LIFE DIGEST: China doubted over announced end of sex-selection abortion

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Chinese government announced Aug. 8 plans to restrict sex-selection abortions, but a leading American foe of Beijing's coercive population control policy expressed skepticism.

A 10-year plan regarding children in the world's most populous country calls for an effort to "eliminate discrimination against girls" and to ban the use of "ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination," according to the Xinhua News.

Government-mandated population control -- commonly referred to as a one-child policy and sometimes involving coerced abortion and sterilization -- has been in effect in China for more than 30 years. The policy has produced a gender imbalance fueled by the use of ultrasound technology. In a culture that favors males, parents often choose abortion when they learn their unborn child is a female. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported.

The Chinese policy generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, wrote Aug. 9 on her blog about the plan: "Don't hold your breath."

China made a similar vow in 2004, according to a British Broadcasting Corp. article, only to see a gender imbalance of 117 boys born to 100 girls born expand. In 2011, there are 119 boys born for every 100 girls, Littlejohn said.

"Make no mistake," wrote Littlejohn, whose coalition combats coercive abortion and sexual slavery in China. "China's One Child Policy is enforced through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. Women are dragged out of their homes, strapped to tables, and forced to abort babies they want, up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Women sometimes die during these violent procedures. The One Child Policy is China's war on women."

At least 13 million abortions are performed in China each year, according to an estimate by the National Population and Family Planning Commission. There are about 20 million live births annually.

EGGS TAKEN FROM DEAD GIRL -- An Israeli court has permitted a family to extract and freeze the eggs of their dead daughter -- a first in Israel and possibly in the world.

On Aug. 7, the Kfar Sava Family Court approved the egg extraction from Hen Aida Ayish, 17, who died after a car accident about 10 days before, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The Ayish family agreed to donate her organs, which helped save the lives of four people awaiting transplants. Later, her eggs were removed and frozen at Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava.

The family originally asked the hospital to fertilize the girl's eggs with sperm from a dead man, but the hospital declined without court approval, health-care providers told Haaretz. The court allowed only the extraction of the eggs. The future of the eggs is uncertain, and the Ayish family has not commented on the reason for their request.

SELECTIVE REDUCTION: 'ANOTHER CHOICE' -- The culture of choice that characterizes so much of American society, especially regarding unborn children, is underscored in comments made by a mother in an Aug. 10 article in The New York Times Magazine.

In a lengthy piece on selective reduction or pregnancy reduction, as it is labeled, The Times focuses on women who have undergone fertility treatments only to abort one of their children when they become pregnant with twins. The lethal procedure usually involves injecting potassium chloride into a baby's heart with a needle inserted through the mother's abdomen.

One of the women featured in the article is named Jenny, 45, who had six years of fertility procedures and decided to eliminate one of her twins 14 weeks into her pregnancy.

After the procedure, Jenny told The Times, "Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn't had children already or if we were more financially secure. If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn't have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there's a natural order, then you don't want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner -- in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me -- and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control."


Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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