China Performed 336M Abortions Since 1971

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 16 2013 5:18 PM

Doctors in China Have Performed 336 Million Abortions Since 1971

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A baby looks up at its mother on a street in Beijing

Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Official data from China’s health ministry has revealed just how pervasive abortions have been in China since it instituted its one-child policy. Since 1971, Chinese doctors have performed 336 million abortions in a country with a population of 1.35 billion. They have also performed 196 million sterilizations and inserted 403 million intrauterine devices, a birth control procedure that some have said are forced on women in China, reports the Financial Times. China has estimated that without the birth restrictions its population would now be around 30 percent larger.

In the United States, with about one-quarter of China’s population, an estimated 50 million abortions have been performed since the Roe v Wade decision legalized the practice in 1973. Even though many have been calling for a softening of the one-child rule, the number of procedures has remained steady since the late 1990s, with around 7 million abortions and 2 million sterilizations per year.  

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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