No apology

Public outcry in China as government offers to remove IUDs in policy reversal

The obstetrics ward at Women and Children’s Health Care Hospital of Linyi in China (The New York Times)

For more than three decades the Chinese government enforced its one-child policy by mandating that nearly every woman in the country be fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD) following the birth of her first child. With a growing older population and plummeting birthrate, the government abandoned the one-child policy last year and is now offering women the opportunity to have their IUDs removed … free of charge!

But celebrations have not ensued. In fact, quite the opposite has as many have expressed outrage that the IUD announcement has not been accompanied by an apology by the government, or even acknowledgement of culpability for what many have denounced as a deeply invasive policy.

“It’s the equivalent of someone injuring you and then mending the wound,” said Zhang Xintian, 25 years old.

A post written by popular columnist Han Hayue decrying the government’s lack of shame in offering the removal as a “service” to women and equating the implementation of IUDs as ‘involuntary, forced acts of mutilation’ was shared nearly 3,000 times on China’s Twitter equivalent, Weibo. “And now, to say they are offering free removal as a service to these tens of millions of women — repeatedly broadcasting this on state television as a kind of state benefit — they have no shame, second to none,” the columnist wrote in the post. While many women want the government to acknowledge its error by implementing the policy in the first place, the government’s response suggests those wanting an apology may be waiting in vain for it.

For many women the policy reversal arrives too late. Around half of women now eligible to have a second child are 40 or older, Yi Fuxian, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told The New York Times. That means many will have lost the ability to give birth and “the government’s offer of free surgeries will be of no avail.”

And for those younger women who are in their childbearing primes, there are even more reasons that getting pregnant still may not be an option.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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