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Chinese City to Punish Unmarried Mothers With Heavy Fines

Update Date: Jun 03, 2013 12:48 PM EDT

Unmarried mothers and women who had children with men who were already married could face heavy fines under draft family planning legislation in central China.

Officials in Wuhan city said the proposed rules are designed to target women who "knowingly have children out of wedlock," according to the Global Times. They say that the "social compensation fees" are aimed at keeping the birth rate low.

The Daily Mail reports that the latest case is the first time that out-of-wedlock children have been expressly singled out for penalty by one of China's municipalities.

The news comes days after Baby 59 was rescued from a sewer pipe in after his mother flushed him down the toilet in Eastern China. The mother, who has still not been named, reportedly told police that she had hid the pregnancy because she had been rejected by the child's biological father. 

Many bloggers and academics have condemned Wuhan's plans to penalize single mothers.

"If the policy is approved, there could be more "sewer babies" because when mothers can't afford the cost, they might think about throwing their babies away," said Chen Yaya, a gender equality researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, according to the Daily Mail.

He Yafu, a Chinese demographer, said that the draft legislation would more than likely lead to a significant rise in the number of abandoned babies and abortions, adding that family planning officials should not be able to "regulate [moral] behavior," according to the Global Times.

"The regulation is ridiculous," Wang Qiong, a professor at Wuhan University, told the China Daily. "What if a woman chooses to have a test tube baby without getting married? Should she also be fined?" 

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