December 9, 2021
China appears to be limiting vasectomies in order to arrest its rapid population decline, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Twelve public hospitals in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou told the Post they no longer perform the procedure. Another six hospitals contacted by the Post still perform vasectomies, but one of them no longer offers the procedure to unmarried men.
“It’s a rather simple surgery in theory, but public hospitals will almost always turn patients away because we are aware of the risks involved in doing something that’s not explicitly okayed by the government,” a hospital director in Jingzhou city, Hubei province, told the Post. “The fundamental policy is that China needs more childbirths.”
The number of vasectomies performed in China has fallen from 149,432 in 2015 to 4,742 in 2019. Various couples and single men who spoke with the Post said doctors have turned down requests for a vasectomy, with some demanding proof that couples already have children before approving a request.
China’s fertility rate stood at 1.3 children per woman in 2020. The country’s once-a-decade 2020 census recorded a population increase of 72 million, or 5.38 percent, since the previous 2010 census, the smallest increase since the first census in 1953.
China established a one-child policy in the 1980 to curb population growth, however the policy was rescinded in 2016. The Chinese Communist Party announced in May that it would allow couples to have three children.
“This should be regarded as a crisis for the survival of the Chinese nation, even beyond the pandemic and other environmental issues,” Huang Wenzheng, a demographer at the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, told the New York Times in May. “There should never have been a birth restriction policy in the first place. So it’s not a question of whether this is too late.”