Rich have traditional values on childbirth

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2012, 12:00am


Wealthy Hongkongers uphold traditional values when it comes to child birth, with most rejecting abortion, adoption or artificial insemination as family planning options despite their reluctance to have children.

A survey commissioned by the South China Morning Post in March found that more than 80 per cent of the 1,004 respondents with household incomes of HK$40,000 or above said they would keep a baby if they or their partner unexpectedly fell pregnant, even though only 40 per cent actually plan to have a child.

Some 12 per cent were unsure what they would do and only 7 per cent said they would have an abortion. Only 0.2 per cent said they would give birth and hand the child over for adoption. All the respondents are from the richest 22 per cent of the city's population.

The poll aimed to examine the issue of the city's low birth rate and the difficulties parents face in raising children here - even for the most affluent families. Hong Kong has the third-lowest birth rate in the world, ahead of Macau and Singapore, but behind Taiwan.

Half of the respondents in the Post survey do not have children, 26 per cent had one child and 18 per cent had two. Just 3 per cent had three or more. However, the poll, conducted by TNS Public Opinion Surveys, appear to be at odds with attitudes towards abortion - the city has the highest abortion rate among developed economies in the world, according to government statistics.

In 2001, about one third of almost 70,000 recorded pregnancies were artificially terminated - according to data compiled by the Health Department in 2004. More recent statistics show that 11,230 legal abortions were carried out in 2010, down from 13,199 in 2008.

Abortion is legal in Hong Kong if two doctors deem the pregnancy endangers the mother's health or the child will be severely handicapped. But a significant number of women are thought to travel to mainland China, where abortion is available on demand, but statistics for these terminations are not officially recorded in Hong Kong.

An Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society survey in 2003 found about two thirds of sexually active women said they would consider an abortion in case of an unplanned pregnancy, most stating financial burdens and the possibility of losing their job as the major reasons.

Around 25 per cent of the single women with unexpected pregnancies who turned to Mother's Choice for help chose abortion, said Wendy Chan, who provides support services for women at the non-profit group. Chan said 'our target group is different [to the TNS survey's respondents] - all are single women, some only in their teens, up to women in their forties. The majority are also financially deprived.

'Their marital status, age and financial status would be the main factors when these pregnant girls and women have to decide to keep the child or not,' she said.

The organisation dealt with 313 cases last year. Half of them chose to give birth and keep the child and around 20 to 25 per cent opted to abort.

Even though the city's population was ageing and more couples were getting married later in life, most of the respondents in the Post survey said they would not consider adoption or artificial insemination if they had passed their prime age for having a child.


of Hongkongers would never consider using artificial insemination technology

- Only 8 per cent would consider using it