Every Woman Should Have Her Reproductive Rights

August 6, 2015
By Li YinheEditor: Yang Yang

Recently, a news story about a Chinese unmarried woman who was not allowed to use frozen eggs was published on the official Weibo (China's equivalent of Twitter) account of "CCTV News", attracting attention to the issue of the reproductive rights of the country's single women.

Based on the Population and Family Planning Law, "Chinese citizens enjoy reproductive rights, as well as the duty of carrying out family planning according to the law." Unmarried women are national citizens, so they should enjoy reproductive rights.

But based on Chinese law, if a single woman wants to have a baby, she must conform to the relevant regulations on family planning. However, the regulations across China are quite different.

For instance, according to Article 30, Section 2 of the Regulation of Jilin's Population and Family Planning, "The childless woman, who reaches the legal marriage age and decides not to marry for her whole life can apply to legal medical auxiliary reproductive technologies to give birth to a baby". This regulation was adopted through the vote system by the Ninth Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Jilin, in September 2002.

The demands for single woman's reproductive rights are always ignored in the Family Planning Provisions across China. And this is caused by social norms of sexual behavior in those decades. In the 1980s, on the basis of population statistics, only 3.8 percent of people were unmarried for their whole lives, and premarital sex was rare during those periods; a single woman could be punished for her sexual behavior if she was not in a legal marriage.

In the decades of social development, the proportion of single people has risen to 12 percent from 2-3 percent; and the percentage of those having premarital sex has increased from 15 to 71 percent; single people's sexual behavior is massively on the increase.

The regulations on single women only being allowed to use frozen eggs until they get married and take family planning into account. But, women's marriages and their reproductive rights are two different things. A woman can choose a marriage or not, but fertility is a right accorded to citizens by the Constitution and the Family Planning Law.

Professor Li Yinhe suggests that the Population and Family Planning Law should permit every single woman, whether she is married or not, to have a baby, instead of the current law regulating that only a couple who are married by law could have a baby. She said, this suggestion, on the one side, guarantees the implementation of family planning; on the other side, it also protects the reproductive rights of each woman.
Note: Professor Li Yinhe is a sexologist and researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and has long studied marriage, family and sex in Chinese society.

The above opinions represent the opinions of Li only and are not necessarily shared by Women of China (womenofchina.cn).

(Source: 163.com/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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