A SHENZHEN hospital has been operating a booking office in Mongkok since 1978 from where it has been soliciting patients up to eight months' pregnant for abortions. Some of the patients are as young as 16. What they do not know until they check into the Shenzhen People's Hospital is that the medical care awaiting them is appalling by Hong Kong standards. Patients are asked to pay $30 for the disposal of the foetus, which is wrapped in newspaper and tossed into a bin with ordinary rubbish. The hospital has been accepting thousands of Hong Kong women, many under 18 years old, for abortions every year. Its Argyle Street office arranges abortions which are legal in Shenzhen but which would be considered illegal in the territory. Abortions may be performed in Hong Kong if they are approved by two registered general practitioners. The law prohibits terminations of pregnancies beyond 24 weeks, unless it is absolutely necessary. There is no legislation in Hong Kong which prevents touting for abortion clinics outside the territory. Law Reform Commission and Fight Crime Committee member Justein Wong Chun said he was disgusted by this practice and would raise the issue with both organisations. He said the arrangement was making a mockery of Hong Kong laws. ''I am shocked and ashamed this is happening. How could this be in operation in Hong Kong for so long and no one has ever bothered checking what it is doing? I am not blaming the Government, but I think these people certainly make the authorities look stupid. ''The Government should look again at the law and consider making it illegal even for people aiding and abetting illegal abortions in Hong Kong although the operation is done outside.'' His comments were echoed by Legislative Council health panel deputy convenor Tik Chi-yuen, and Family Planning Association executive director Dr Margaret Kwan Shuk-wa. The hospital's 500-square-foot Argyle Street office acts as a reception centre. Each patient has to be examined to determine the stage of pregnancy before a price is quoted. Terminating pregnancies under two months cost $1,895, with the woman leaving for Shenzhen at noon and returning the same day at 6 pm. An abortion at three months costs about $3,000 and the patient must stay in hospital for a few days. According to a ''doctor'' at the clinic, Miss Tse Wan, the more advanced the pregnancy, the higher the cost. A reporter who went to the clinic claiming to be three months' pregnant was not examined, but Miss Tse said: ''It would make good sense to terminate it as soon as possible.'' The hospital's Hong Kong office openly arranges terminations of pregnancies of up to eight months and very often its staff will encourage girls to make such decisions. In one phone conversation, a Post reporter posed as a 17-year-old who was seven months' pregnant. A staff member encouraged her to make a quick decision. ''Our nurses will take you up there. We make these trips twice a week - on Wednesdays and Fridays. You'd better decide quickly,'' she said. Copies of the transcript have been sent to the police, the Secretary for Health and Welfare, the Law Reform Commission, the Legal Department and the Family Planning Association for possible action. Health panel convenor and Legco medical representative Dr Leong Che-hung said the authorities should study whether the hospital had contravened the Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance. He said he would raise the matter at the panel's next meeting. The Secretary for Health and Welfare, Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien, said she was shocked that the Shenzhen People's Hospital was operating such a service in Hong Kong. But she said she could not comment further before examining the allegations. An average of 20,000 pregnancies are terminated legally every year in Hong Kong, while the number of illegal abortions is estimated to be almost twice that. Statistics show that there were 16,815 legal abortions in 1986. The number jumped to 24,000 last year. A total of 1,660 legal abortions were carried out for women under 20 in 1991, compared with 1,350 in 1990, 1,085 in 1989 and 976 in 1988. The Shenzhen People's Hospital conducts at least several thousand abortions for Hong Kong women annually. The executive director of the Prolife Action Association, Alice Wong May-fung, was surprised to hear that the Shenzhen People's Hospital used an office to tout for business, and said it should be stopped. But Dr Lee Kin-hung, vice-president of the Medical Association and a gynaecologist, said there was nothing wrong with the present legislation. ''We cannot say the practice of the Shenzhen People's Hospital [in Hong Kong] is illegal since they do not carry out abortions in the territory,'' he said. ''And abortions are regarded as legal in China.'' But Mr Justein Wong said: ''We should not just assume that because it is done outside the territory it has nothing to do with us.''