HANOI -- The use of abortion as a method of birth control is widespread and growing in Vietnam, according to government and foreign experts. There were more than 1.1 million abortions reported last year -- four times the number that government planners had set as the national target.
Most of the abortions were done at hospitals or public clinics. The typical walk-in abortion here takes about 90 minutes and costs $4.35.
Particularly alarming to public-health experts is a recent increase in abortions among unmarried adolescents. A top official in the government said this trend is "a failure of our program. We now have to convince our young women that abortion is not their best option."
Although Vietnamese family tradition still prizes baby boys, health care experts say that, unlike in China, abortions are generally not being used if a sonogram shows that a new child will be a girl.
Many families, however, will continue to try for a boy if their first children turn out to be girls. Some will even go for an "extra" boy.
"We had two boys, but one drowned, and it was too risky to have only one boy," said Nguyen thi Hai, 34, a farmer in southern Vietnam who already had seven girls when her second son was born last year. "We have to make sure we have someone to carry on the family line."
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