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Sat, Dec 23, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Officials say abortion estimates low

STAFF WRITER

According to data from the Bureau of National Health Insurance, Taiwan women sought 42,282 abortions last year.

But Su Tsung-hsien (蘇聰賢), secretary-general of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Association, said the actual number could reach as high as 100,000 if abortions obtained from private clinics are also included in the tally. Health officials said yesterday that abortions are now the fifth most common surgery performed in Taiwan.

The officials say that because regulations require women under the age of 18 to have a parent's written consent before obtaining an abortion, many turn to private clinics.

As for hysterectomies, health officials say there were 16,840 cases last year -- fewer than the year before -- after the bureau began to promote strict examination procedures for the surgery. "Doctors who perform unnecessary hysterectomies may face a NT$1 million fine," officials said.

Meanwhile, doctors say the average age of Taiwan women seeking an abortion is dropping.

A gynecologist in Taipei County yesterday claimed that a 17-year-old girl at his private clinic has had nine abortions.

"Many of the women are junior high school students," the doctor said.

According to the doctor, the price of having an abortion in Taipei City is about NT$8,000. In Taipei County the fee is just NT$4,000.

Women's health notes

* 42,482 women received abortions in 1999

* Health officials said the figure could be 100,000 if illegal abortions are counted

* 16,840 women received hysterectomies in 1999

* An abortion in Taipei City typically costs NT$8,000

* An abortion in Taipei County typically costs NT$4,000

Source: TT


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