Seeking to curb abortions of unwanted girls, the southeastern Fujian province has banned ultrasound and other tests that tell expectant parents the sex of their unborn children.
Legally, most Chinese couples are allowed only one child, and in many cases a traditional preference for boys leads couples to abort unwanted female fetuses so they can try again to fill their quota with a male.The tendency already has created an imbalance in the ratio of boys to girls in the population and could lead to serious social problems in the future.
Although doctors are forbidden from telling parents the sex of a fetus, many still do. The law adopted by the Fujian provincial congress is the first local regulation intended to stop the practice, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
It said sex identification would be allowed only with the approval of medical and public health institutions above the city level for the sake of preventing hereditary diseases.
Authorities will revoke the licenses of doctors caught providing illegal sex identification more than twice, Xinhua said. And pregnant women who illegally abort a fetus after having a sex identification test will be prohibited from conceiving another child.
The report cited a study of the population in Fujian province that showed the ratio of baby boys to baby girls was 115.4 to 100, far above the overall national ratio of 103 to 100.
Many Chinese couples, especially in the countryside, evade China's strict family planning policies in their efforts to have more children, particularly males.
Boys generally are preferred because they are expected to help with farming or carry on the family business, while girls usually leave the home of their parents when they marry.