Single migrant women face high abortion risk

PHOTO: Single migrant women face high abortion risk

BEIJING - Young unmarried migrant women are facing a high risk of induced abortions in China and experts urged that they have better access to reproductive health education.

Among the 8 to 10 million induced abortions performed on the mainland each year, nearly 47 per cent involve unmarried women younger than 25, according to Cheng Linan, director of the center for clinical research and training of the Shanghai Institute of Planned Parenthood Research.

The statistics are based on the results from a recent nationwide survey.

"The rising trend of induced abortions is even more evident among migrants who usually have poor awareness and access to reproductive health knowledge and services, particularly about contraception," she said on Saturday at an event to mark World Contraceptive Day, which falls on Sept 26.

A 2008 survey involving more than 50,000 induced abortions in Beijing showed that roughly 70 per cent of the women undergoing the procedure were migrants. For many, it was not their first abortion.

According to a nationwide study by the Chinese Medical Association (CMA), of all women having received induced abortions, nearly 56 per cent had two operations and 13.5 per cent had three or more.

"That not only causes the women certain physical or mental problems, but it also gives the country a huge economic burden of more than 3 billion yuan" or about $470 million (S$608 million), she said.

Among Chinese women who became infertile, more than 88 per cent previously had an induced abortion, a study conducted in 2007 showed.

Other potential health hazards include hemorrhage, uterine or pelvic infection, uterine perforation and cervical laceration.

Apart from low awareness, poor access to professional consultations on contraception, particularly among single young women, is mainly the problem.

A 2011 survey by the CMA found that about 44 per cent of those polled said they had difficulty accessing scientifically correct contraceptive information, compared with a global average of 15.5 per cent.

Currently, the top three channels to get contraceptive information in China are the Internet, reproductive health education materials and magazines, it found.