A health official has called for more attention to be paid to the risks
facing rural women afraid to seek professional maternal services because they
are having more babies than the country's family planning policy allows.
Vice-Health Minister Jiang Zuojun said at a recent national conference on
women and children: "Some women, who dare not apply for financial aid with
childbirth for fear of being punished for having more than one child, choose to
have their babies delivered at home or in low-cost, but substandard private
China has followed a strict family planning policy since the 1970s. It
encourages late marriages and late childbearing, and limits most urban couples
to one child and most rural couples to two.
The policy is credited with preventing 400 million new births in the country.
However, an underdeveloped social security network in rural areas and
people's deeply rooted traditional preference for male heirs has prompted some
rural families to defy the policy by having more babies.
Many expectant mothers who choose to defy the rule prefer to risk death
during childbirth rather than face a heavy fine.
Jiang said the government will hand out harsher penalties to substandard
rural clinics and at the same time build more rural medical facilities.
Local departments of health, women and children, civil affairs officials and
public security forces should all join the effort to discourage pregnant women
from taking such risks and aim to provide proper health services to rural women
living in cities, Jiang said.
(China Daily 05/08/2007 page3)