The Chinese government’s move to reduce the rate of abortions needed for “non-medical reasons” has resulted in public backlash, with many seeing this as an intrusive measure meant to raise the country’s sagging birthrate as part of its three-child policy, according to a media report.

China’s central Cabinet, called the State Council, on Monday said it will “reduce the rate of abortions needed for non medical reasons”, as part of its efforts to improve women’s health, according to a series of new guidelines addressing issues related to women and children in the world’s most populous nation.

The  Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday the policy was criticised by the public as a new form of government interference in people’s private family life, after the notorious forced abortions during the implementation of the decades old one child policy.

Last month, China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress formally endorsed the three-child policy mooted by the ruling Communist Party, in a major policy shift to prevent a steep decline in birth rates in the country, which has a population of over 1.4 billion.

The revised Population and Family Planning Law, which allows Chinese couples to have three children, was passed by the NPC in an apparent attempt to address the reluctance of the Chinese couples to have more children due to mounting costs.

The amended law has also passed more social and economic supportive measures to address the concerns. China permitted all couples to have two children in 2016, scrapping the decades-old one child policy which policymakers blame for the demographic crisis in the country.

Li Ying, a Beijing based women’s rights lawyer, said amid the authorities’ diametric shift in family planning, it’s natural for women to worry that the authorities may now be imposing restrictions on access to abortion.

The decision to permit the third child came after a new census this year showed that China’s population grew at the slowest pace to 1.412 billion amid official projections that the decline may begin as early as next year.

The poor response made Liang Jianzhang, professor at Peking University’s School of Economics, suggest to the government to offer parents 1 million yuan for each newborn child to shore up the country’s declining birth rate.

The new census figures revealed that the demographic crisis China faced was expected to deepen as the population above 60 years grew to 264 million, up by 18.7 per cent last year.

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