Under the models of permission and privacy, a government permits some or all of the abortions women want. Under the model of prescription, a government compels or virtually compels women to obtain abortions the government wants. Far-reaching compulsory abortion laws have been rare in the modern world. In the West, policymakers frown upon official and unofficial policies of mandatory abortion for poor and mentally incompetent women. Although healthcare providers reportedly recommend abortion in some instances— for example, when a pregnant woman is addicted to cocaine or infected with the AIDS virus—the United States government does not officially recommend or mandate abortion for any class of pregnancy. Under a penal code adopted in 1979, Cuban law proscribes abortion performed without the permission of the woman.
In an effort to control overpopulation and protect its economy, China began adopting "planned birth" family-planning measures in 1953. These measures aggressively encourage abortion through a system of penalties and rewards. Under the Chinese constitution, both the government and individuals are responsible for the planned-birth policy. In 1974, couples were limited to two children. Since 1979 couples wishing to bear children have been authorized to have only one child, and then only after securing a government permit. To encourage compliance, abortion is offered at no cost and may entitle the woman to a two-week paid leave of absence; women who have an IUD inserted or a tubal ligation along with abortion may receive additional paid leave. The effect of the planned-birth policy on the abortion rate in China is not known in the West. However, female infanticide and abortion for sex selection are reported. Chinese families have reportedly resorted to infanticide and selective abortion to ensure that their one-child quota is filled by a child of the culturally preferred male sex.
Was this article helpful?