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Most Populous Province Legislates to Curb Gender Imbalance

The legislature of China's most populous province approved a package of regulations on Friday afternoon to ban fetal gender selection by abortion.

The Henan legislature passed 24 items banning all the fetal gender identification and resulting abortions expect for medical reasons to take effect from Jan. 1 next year.

The province, which has 100 million registered residents, has already set up gender imbalance control offices at all levels of the government to monitor its implementation.

Those who violate the laws face fines of 10,000 to 30,000 yuan (US$1,250 to 3,750), at least five times the yearly average income of a local family.

Organizations or hospitals providing such services could have their licences revoked and equipment confiscated.

The regulations will also rigorously limit the applications of the related medical technologies, especially tightening the control over ultrasonic B, chromosome technologies and abortion operations and drugs.

Fetal gender identification for medical reasons must be approved by at least three doctors and the ensuing abortion must be approved by the population and family planning department of at least a county government.

China's fifth population census in 2000 showed the ratio between newborn boys and girls in Henan was 118.46:100, considerably higher than the normal ratio of 103-107:100.

The most direct cause of the imbalance was gender identification with the "advanced technologies" and abortions of female fetuses, said Meng Xianchen, director of Henan Population and Family Planning Commission.

The gender imbalance reflects a deep-rooted view among Chinese people, dating back thousands of years, that boys are more valued than girls, and the fact that most Chinese couple are allowed only one child.

In some rural areas in China, where labor is short, the sexual discrimination is especially obvious.

(Xinhua News Agency September 30, 2006)

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