China will discourage abortions and take steps to make fertility treatment more accessible as part of efforts to boost one of the world’s lowest birth rates, its National Health Authority said on Tuesday.
Support measures from taxation and insurance to education and housing would be improved and implemented, with local governments encouraged to boost infant care services and family friendly workplaces, according to guidelines published on the authority’s website.
The authority said it would carry out reproductive health promotion to enhance public awareness while “preventing unintended pregnancy and reducing abortions that are not medically necessary”.
China’s fertility rate of 1.16 in 2021 was far below the 2.1 OECD standard for a stable population and among the lowest in the world.
The guidelines come as China’s uncompromising “zero-COVID” policy of curbing outbreaks with strict controls on people’s lives may have caused profound damage on their desire to have children, demographers say.
The authority said it would guide local governments to gradually include assisted reproductive technology in its national medical system. Technology such as IVF is typically very expensive in China and not accessible to unmarried women.
China set to discourage abortion amid concern over birthrates t.co/QoIp8V7cBO
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