Sunday, March 10, 2013


Because of China's "One Child Policy" which you can read about here, the need for birth control is no small topic.  After a woman has had her allotted child, she is left with no choice but to use some form of birth control, and many must be able to prove that they are on it.  The most common and easy to prove form of birth control used here is "the ring".  Because it is inserted by a doctor annually, simple medical record is proof enough.  Some still use the pill, and I'm guessing receipts of purchase are proof enough. Birth control is very easy to come by and is quite inexpensive.  Some can even be purchased over the counter.  

Sadly, abortions are still very common. I wish I had some statistics to show exactly who is getting abortions.  I know for a fact that many un-wed women and women who already have a child, find themselves pregnant only have abortion after abortion.  It's not uncommon to meet a woman who has had 3 or 4 abortions.  Most women know little about the effects of abortion on their bodies.  Young girls are not aware that abortions can cause infertility and a host of other problems.

There is a huge lack of education in this area as well as in sex education.   Until very recently the Chinese culture was quite modest.  Ten years ago, you'd have a hard time finding a woman in shorts or with a dress above knee length.  Neck lines truly only showed necks.  Though today busses are adorned with lingerie advertisements and women are showing more and more skin, all topics that even broach the topic of sex still fall under the category "不好意思" (bu hao yi si), or "shameful".  Parents don't talk to their kids about sex, and even in college, students are too embarrassed to have a simple conversation about dating customs.  Some schools are just now starting to have "the 5th grade talk", but most of the sex education comes from movies, advertisements, the internet, and pop culture.  For adults, there is no room for such talk. As a result, many mistakes are made, and many are misinformed.  Unmarried couples have sex not knowing that it causes pregnancy or believing what their friends told them about contraception methods.  They are then in quite a predicament and turn to the solutions that the rest of society has largely accepted.

All morality aside, most don't realize that they are ending the life of a living being.  I like to compare it to a child in the bush of Africa butchering a goat for dinner.  Most Americans would be squeamish and may have nightmares about such an experience, but for the African child, it's just part of life.  In the same way, abortion is just part of life here.   Being such a common thing practice, a woman can walk in and out of an abortion clinic without much of a hitch in her daily routine.  Because abortions are so socially acceptable, there's no counseling, no waiting period, and very little thought that goes into the quick medical procedure.  When a woman goes in for each prenatal checkup, one of the first questions the doctor asks is, "Do you want this baby or not?"  The Chinese word for abortion is 人流 (ren liu).  Literally it means "leak a person",  "banish a person", or "loose a person".  In conversation, abortion is talked about the same way we Americans talk about miscarriage.  It's as if abortion is on an equal plane with a natural miscarriage.  

Though the explanations help me to understand the decisions people make, I still can't agree that abortion is right.  My heart aches each time I pass by an abortion clinic and rejoices when I see one being torn down.  I get sick to my stomach when I learn of another woman who turned to this solution.  The longer I live here, the more and more I realize that the problem isn't abortion.  It's a symptom much deeper issue.  I just hope that by learning more about the people and about what goes through their minds, I can relate to them on another deeper level.  

1 comment:

Boondock Ma (Kim's Mom) said...

While I appreciate the knowledge about the culture you are sharing, I have to admit this one brought me to tears.