China has announced it will tighten controls on illicit sex testing of unborn babies in efforts to curtail sex-selective abortions.
Finding out the sex of an unborn baby for non-medical reasons is against the law in China.
The country’s one-child policy and the cultural preference for boys has led to the abortion of many girls and a major sex imbalance in the nation.
The new plans attempt to rebalance the sex ratio amid mounting social concerns.
Chinese officials have launched a campaign to clamp down on illicit agencies and online advertising of overseas sex testing.
Corrupt doctors and illegal clinics will also be targeted in an operation involving 14 Government agencies.
House of Commons
In the UK sex-selective abortion could be explicitly outlawed within months.
More than 70 MPs, representing each of the main parties, put their names to an amendment to the Government’s Serious Crime Bill to prevent abortion on the grounds of an unborn baby’s sex.
At the end of last year, Fiona Bruce MP tabled the Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill, which received strong support in the House of Commons.
MPs voted 181-1 in support of making the practice illegal but, as a Ten Minute Rule Bill, it had no legal force.
Amending the Serious Crime Bill could bring the change into law before May’s General Election.
Mrs Bruce, the Conservative MP for Congleton, said that her amendment seeks to “make crystal clear that the sex of an unborn child is not a permissible reason for an abortion in UK law”.
The British Medical Association has claimed that having a child of a particular sex can affect the mother’s mental health, and may justify an abortion.
But a ComRes poll revealed that 84 per cent of adults agree sex-selective abortion should be explicitly banned in law.
And 80 per cent support the prosecution of doctors who authorise sex-selective abortion.
In 2011 the Chinese Government released a document emphasising that using “ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination” should be strictly prohibited.
The document added that the social status of rural families raising girls should be improved.
It said that efforts should be made to “eliminate discrimination against girls”.