China and Abortion

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China - Two researchers say comprehensive new data shows that traditional family patterns in China, combined with tough population-control measures, have resulted in ``female infanticide on a grand scale'' -- close to 800,000 baby girls abandoned or killed in a single region between 1971-80 alone. G. William Skinner, an anthropologist and China specialist at the University of California-Davis, and Chinese researcher Yuan Jianhua based their conclusions on an analysis of 1990 Chinese census data. They presented their findings at the Association for Asian Studies' annual meeting last weekend in San Diego. While the phenomenon of disappearing girls isn't new, the paper by Yuan and Skinner is the first to show how location and family composition help determine infants' fate: The more rural a baby girl's surroundings, and the more sisters she had at birth, the higher her chances of not surviving. The researchers say most of the girls were abandoned or killed at birth. Chinese officials have long maintained that missing girls are adopted or raised on the sly, but Skinner said the data does not allow for concealment. Skinner and Yuan, who works for a semiofficial agency in Beijing that does population projections for the Chinese government, focused on a 1 percent census sample of China's lower Yangtze region. Located around the central metropolis of Shanghai, the area ranges from crowded coastal cities to surrounding rural communities, and had a population of 140 million in 1990. Their research found that the culturally ``minimal acceptable'' Chinese family consisted of two boys and a girl, given China's patrilineal heritage. Daughters are important as well for household duties, marriage into a higher-status family, and the source of sons-in-law when there are no male heirs. China began trying to control its massive population growth in 1970 and introduced a one-child-per-family policy in 1980 -- an approach that ran into huge resistance and was "relaxed" after...
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