However, what Taiwan should consider is why former legislator Yen Ching-piao’s (顏清標) 16-year-old daughter-in-law could hold banquets for thousands of people, including hoards of government officials, to celebrate her pregnancy and wedding, while other adolescents choose to commit suicide when they become pregnant.
Why do so many adolescents give birth in washrooms and immediately abandon, or even kill, their newborns? Why is the birthrate 22.7 per 1,000 among adolescents in Taitung County and 21.4 in Hualien County? Why is the birthrate among Aborigines five times higher than the national average?
Many researchers have said that adolescents in poorer families have their first sexual encounter earlier and have more partners than others; that adolescent pregnancy is higher in poorer areas; that sexual and contraceptive education is lacking in these areas and so it is more difficult for adolescents in these areas to obtain contraceptives and access abortion services.
What Taiwan has done to support adolescent women? Abortions are one “contraceptive,” but women have to shoulder all the costs for abortions, birth control pills, contraceptive devices, morning-after pills and condoms.
Sexual health policy in Taiwan, the world’s second-most densely populated country, remains clearly biased toward encouraging childbirth and against subsidizing contraception.
This only goes to show that the authorities’ concern for women’s rights is nothing but lip service and moralist discrimination.
Chiang Sheng is an attending physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mackay Memorial Hospital.