Eugenics bill revised
BEIJING has singled out serious hereditary diseases, specified infectious diseases and mental illnesses as areas to be included in pre-marital medical check-ups in its controversial draft bill on eugenics, an official report said.
The much-delayed legislation, first submitted to the standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) last December, has been renamed 'the law on the protection of mothers and infants' with amendments in a bid to placate fierce criticisms from Western countries.
The revised legislation, shelved for almost a year, has been retabled and is being deliberated on by the NPC standing committee in Beijing.
Earlier reports said concerned government agencies, including the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Public Health, had been reluctant to discuss the legislation publicly for fear of creating more controversy, while the law was reworked into a less contentious form.
The word 'eugenics' and 'inferior births' would not appear in the amended version, reports said. And Beijing has not released any details of the revised draft.
A dispatch from the official Xinhua (New China News Agency) said the revised bill had been more specific in the implementation procedures and conditions of pre-marital medical check-ups.
Cai Cheng, vice-chairman of the Law Committee of the State Council was quoted by Xinhua as saying: 'Serious hereditary diseases, specified infectious diseases and related mental illnesses are ailments to be looked for in medical check-ups before marriage.' Restrictions for these three illnesses were given in supplementary articles, Mr Cai added, without giving more details.
According to earlier reports, the original bill ruled that 'people with ailments like hepatitis, venereal disease or mental illness would be banned from marrying until cured'.
'Pregnant women diagnosed with certain infectious diseases or foetus abnormalities would be advised to have an abortion,' reports said.
And the Minister of Public Health Chen Minzhang was quoted last December as saying that 'couples in these categories should have themselves sterilised'.
Xinhua said a clause was added, stipulating that medical and health institutions should give 'medical instructions' to people with serious illnesses or people who had contacted materials conducive to abnormalities.
The dispatch said legislators had suggested that the Government should give 'necessary assistance' to economically backward regions.
They said that regulations on pre-marital medical check-ups should be strictly implemented.
And in order to avoid the imbalance between boys and girls, legislators said B-supersonic scanning for the sex of foetuses should be banned, according to Xinhua.