Between 300,000 and 500,000 abortions are carried out in Taiwan each year, National Taiwan University College of Medicine professor and pediatrician Lue Hung-chi (呂鴻基) told a forum on Saturday, calling on the government to act on the situation.
Lue said the birthrate last year was 166,000, showing that the number of abortions far exceeded the number of children born.
The government should implement measures to encourage people to have children and set up channels for pregnant women to ask questions, as well as provide counseling for people about pregnancy and create an environment that facilitates adoption, Lue said.
Lue said doctors from the school’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology had told him that the reason there were so many abortions was the loose regulations in Article 9, sub-paragraph 6 of the Genetic Health Act (優生保健法), which stipulates that “if giving birth or becoming pregnant affects the patient’s psychological health or family life, if the patient is willing, an abortion may be performed.”
Many people are using this act to have abortions and the government should amend the law to avoid further exploitation, Lue said.
In response to Lue’s figures, Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology secretary-general Huang Min-chao (黃閔照) said there had never been statistical records of the actual number of abortions and that people should refrain from making estimates.
There is a popular belief that September is usually the month when women want to have an abortion, a belief that Huang said could not be supported by statistics.
As for the act, Huang said several countries had identical or similar regulations that respect a mother’s right to choose whether to have a child, adding that if amendments imposed certain prohibitions on abortion, many pregnant women could turn to underground clinics, causing more problems and -potentially lead to serious injuries.
Lee Mao-sheng (李茂盛), a professor at Chung Shan Medical University’s College of Medicine, said the loss of babies from miscarriage or abortions annually was between 100,000 and 150,000.
Subtracting the number of miscarriages indicated that between 50,000 and 100,000 abortions are carried out each year, Lee said, adding that while in the past abortions usually occurred among adolescents, the number was now growing among people of marrying age.
That is because many people feel they cannot raise a child and are afraid of the pressure the arrival of a child could bring, Lee said.
Because of the recent global financial crisis, soaring housing prices and stagnating salaries, the abortion rate has grown by about 20 percent, Lee said.
The problem of a low birth rate could be mitigated by a potential “mini-baby boom” during the year of the dragon, Lee said, adding that abortion rates could also drop to 10 percent during that year.
The number of babies born next year is expected to be between 180,000 and 200,000.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER
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