Author(s): Rigdon SM
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Abstract This article utilizes legal documents, policy statements and ethnographic data to compare abortion law and practice in China and the United States. It outlines Chinese abortion law from ancient to modern times, identifies categories of reasons for aborting, and describes both folk remedies and the most common methods of modern medicine for inducing abortion. The contemporary incidence of abortion is discussed in the context of official family planning policy; evidence is presented to suggest that while modern methods are far safer than traditional remedies, the use of abortion as a major form of birth control has had an impact on women's health. The interference of the state in women's reproductive life is put in historical/cultural context and compared to U.S. views of women's reproductive rights. Differences in conception of abortion rights are attributed to contrasting historical relationships between the state and the individual and religiously and legally based theories of human rights, including fetal personhood and right to life.
This article was published in Soc Sci Med
and referenced in Clinics in Mother and Child Health