Vietnam Abortion Rate Skyrocketing

Hanoi, Viet Nam -- Even as the government takes steps to lower the country's birth rate, the abortion rate in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi continues to rise, the state-run media reported Friday.

In the first six months of 1999, 33,215 abortions were performed at city hospitals, a 3% increase over last year, and nearly double the number of reported births. Experts say the actual abortion rate is much higher, as the government does not record abortions performed in private facilities.

The pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that Vietnam has the highest abortion rate of any nation, at 83 abortions per 1,000 women. While experts say the communist government does not espouse abortion as a birth control method, the procedure is "heavily subsidized by the government," and "many published family planning campaigns still list abortion as a method of birth control" (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 7/9).

Nguyen Thi Than, chair of Vietnam's National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs, said the country had drawn up a draft of a national population plan for the next century, and trumpeted the previous successes of the government's population programs. She said, "Just imagine how many more classrooms and jobs we would have to set up should the population now be 82 million or 83 million rather than the 77 million."

Vietnam is one of two countries to receive an award from the United Nations last year for its population control programs (Xinhua General News Service, 7/9).

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