THE CHINESE health ministry has proposed a law requiring people with diseases that lead to birth defects or mental retardation to postpone marriage or undergo "long-term contraceptive measures after marriage". The legislation aims to "avoid new births of inferior quality and heighten the standards of the population", says the official Xinhua press agency.
Under the draft law, people suffering from hepatitis, venereal disease or mental illness will be barred from marriage. It says married couples with these diseases should have themselves sterilised. It would require physicians to advise abortion when the health of the mother or infant is imperiled.
Government officials, however, deny that such a birth control law would force pregnant women to have abortions against their will. A ministry spokesperson said the law would require the consent of the mother or her guardian for the abortion.
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