Taiwan’s astonishing abortion rate
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Taiwan’s astonishing abortion rate

The island’s terminations appear to vastly outnumber live births, writes Asia Sentinel’s Jens Kastner

For every pregnancy leading to a Taiwanese woman giving birth, a remarkable three are estimated by a Taiwan pediatrician to have been aborted, a figure that others believe isn’t too far from reality.

When on July 17 the veteran National Taiwan University College of Medicine professor and pediatrician Lue Hung-chi told a forum that 300,000 to 500,000 abortions are carried out in Taiwan each year, he was seeking to send alarm bells ringing. If his estimate is true, it has to be one of the highest per-capita abortion rates in the world.

Statistics show that the country has one of the lowest total fertility rates in Asia, apparently driven at least partly by the ready availability of the abortion drug RU-486. The government announced earlier this year that the average number of children a Taiwanese woman would have in her lifetime was the lowest in the island’s history, at 0.91 per woman.

In fact Taiwan’s total fertility rate appears to be the lowest rate any country has recorded anywhere, according to the Population Reference Bureau, although 2010 was an abnormal year, since families were putting off having children because babies born in the Year of the Tiger are thought to be quick-tempered and willful. For whatever reason, the low birthrate was recently declared a national security issue by President Ma Ying-Jeou.

With only 166,000 babies born on the island in 2010, Lue said, the government should act urgently to tighten the island liberal abortion law, which stipulates that a woman can undergo an induced abortion “if the pregnancy adversely affects the psychological or physical health of the woman or her family life.”

Measures should be implemented to encourage people to have children, counseling should be provided and an environment created that facilitates adoption, Lue told Asia Sentinel.


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