Summary of Why Are Abortion Advertisements Rampant in the Streets of China?

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Why Are Abortion Advertisements Rampant in the Streets of China? summary
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In China, you’ll see abortion advertisements plastered all over the towns and cities. This is all the more perplexing, since sex is generally a hush-hush topic in China. In 2017, for example, parents were outraged when teachers used a sex education picture book to explain body parts to children in elementary schools. But then, people walk past abortion advertisements shrugging their shoulders. Where did these advertisements come from? How did abortion become the exception from Chinese conservative attitudes toward sex?  Tang Zhiting, a writer for NetEase’s WeChat wemedia account Wellestudio163, looks to China’s modern history and culture to explain why abortions are more heavily advertised than condoms. getAbstract recommends this article to health care professionals, sociologists and educators – as well as men and women in China of reproductive age. 

About the Author

Tang Zhiting is a writer for the WeChat wemedia account Wellestudio163, a product of the tech company NetEase. 



In China, local television stations, outdoor billboards and flyers all feature ads for “painless abortions in less than three minutes.” Where there are ads, there tends to be demand: In 2015, doctors performed 13 million surgical abortions in China. This number doesn’t include medical abortions (done by taking the so-called abortion pill) and surgeries done in unregistered clinics. In a conservative society where talk of sex is generally taboo, the omnipresence of abortion advertisements in urban as well as rural areas seems incongruent. 

Looking back in time can help explain the phenomenon. With the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the state encouraged citizens to have more children as a means of growing the labor force. Back then, abortions required approval from authorities who strictly monitored them. But by the late 1950s, China was experiencing food shortages as a result of the Great Leap Forward –the industrialization and collectivization initiative led by then chairman Mao Zedong. Unable to feed its people, the government began to control the population by promoting the use of contraceptives. ...

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