A city in China released a draft regulation Friday that would force mothers who have children out of wedlock to pay a major fine.
The city of Wuhan's draft ordinance says "the parties" should pay a fee for births that occur out of wedlock or when one person knowingly has a child with someone who is already married, The Associated Press reports. State media outlets have said the policy primarily targets single mothers and women who have affairs with married men.
The fees women could owe for having a child out of wedlock could amount to as much as 162,000 yuan ($26,407) in some cases under the draft regulation's current interpretation, Lin Xi of the state-run Global Times reports. Xi criticized the draft ordinance for only having a serious impact on the poor and for penalizing mothers while not taking into account the responsibilities of the fathers.
"Single mothers, whatever the causes, are relatively vulnerable groups in society due to the high pressures brought by social discrimination and the difficulties of raising a child alone," wrote Xi. "The responsibilities of governments lie in providing citizens better livelihoods, instead of making moral judgments. The government is expected to have more humane and holistic considerations when making new regulations."
Some people are concerned the regulation, designed to help keep the city's birth rate low, could increase the rate of abortions and abandoned babies when mothers begin searching for ways to avoid being fined. Statistics from China's Ministry of Health show that 336 million abortions have been performed since 1971, the Financial Times reported in March, and approximately 7 million abortions are performed each year.
Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, told The Christian Post the draft regulation in Wuhan is an example of a stricter enforcement of the one-child policy, which applies to most of the nation's couples, as well as the "explicit discrimination against women."
"It will further deteriorate the ... respect of life and dignity for the children of human beings in China. It really, I think, has some serious consequences," said Fu.
Wuhan officials say they are seeking "advice" concerning the draft, The Guardian reports, and the article in question is subject to change.
Global media attention was recently focused on one Chinese single mother whose newborn child became stuck in a sewer pipe and had to be rescued by firefighters. The mother, who reported the problem but at first did not admit the child was hers, later told police her son was conceived during a one-night stand. She had tried to hide her pregnancy, she said, because neither she nor the baby's father could afford an abortion.
The woman birthed the child in the toilet, she claimed, and was unable to catch him before he slipped into the pipe. The child survived the incident with some scratches and bruises.