Results of abortion investigation to be revealed in months

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tue, May 17, 2011 - Page 3

In two months, the Department of Health will release the results of an investigation into gender selective abortions that have taken place in hospitals and will fine violators, a health official said yesterday.

As part of its deterrent efforts, the department is also considering a legal revision that would allow for criminal charges to be brought against violators, Department of Health Deputy Minister Chiang Hung-che (江宏哲) said.

Chiang said gender selective abortions are a serious violation of medical ethics.

Under the Physicians’ Act (醫師法), gender selective abortions should not be carried out and violators could be subject to fines of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000. In some cases, physicians could have their licenses revoked, Chiang added.

Chiang made the remarks at a legislative committee meeting in which lawmakers expressed concern about reports of an unusually high percentage of male births in certain municipalities and medical institutions last year.

In addition to fining doctors and hospitals that perform gender selective abortions, the department will also establish a working group to investigate the ratio of male to female births, Chiang said.

“The department is also preparing to revise the Genetic Health Act [優生保健法] to ban gender selective abortions, in an effort to deter such practices,” Chiang said.

Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), -director-general of the department’s Bureau of Health Promotion, said on Sunday the Criminal Code clearly allocated responsibility in abortion cases, but after the Genetic Health Act was introduced, it gave obstetricians and gynecologists the right to carry out abortions in cases where the health of the mother was at risk.

Statistics from the department showed there were 1.09 male births for every female born nationwide last year.

The figure was higher than the commonly accepted male to female birth ratio of about 1.06, which suggests that more than 3,000 female fetuses may have been aborted, according to the statistics.

Last year, the male to female birth ratio was 1.106 in Changhua County, 1.103 in Greater Taichung, 1.097 in Taoyuan County and 1.094 in Taipei — all higher than the national average.