Pregnant Pause: It’s not much of an improvement

Abortion in Taiwan was legalized in 1985.  However, the coditions for attaining one were and still are highly restrictive.  From Women On Waves:

A woman does not have an automatic right to an abortion in Taiwan and can only get one under the following circumstances:

1.) medical reasons – danger to the mother or fetus including deformities and defects – this includes psychological trauma to the mother

2.) rape or incest (which must, apparently, be “proven”)

3.) “seduction” – meant to cover statutory rape but can technically be used as a reason by a woman of any age

4.) mental/psychological issues of the parent(s) that could be passed on to the child  A Taiwanese woman must obtain the consent of her husband, unless the husband is missing, unconscious or mentally ill.

An unmarried woman under the age of 20 must obtain the permission of her parents, and a woman who is mentally handicapped needs the permission of a guardian.

This may be about to change, but only one aspect of it: “spousal consent”.  Women will no longer be required to obtain agreement from the sperm donor, preventing them from using pregnancy as a means of controlling women.  There is no mandatory child support requirement, so if a deadbeat abandons a woman after giving birth, she has to legally fight for child support.  In regards to “seduction”, extramarital affairs were still a crime in Taiwan until 2020.

Abortion bill would remove need for ‘husband’s consent’

The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) is drafting an amendment to remove the requirement for married women to obtain permission from their partner before having an abortion, which it hopes to present by March, it said on Wednesday.

Under Article 9 of the Genetic Health Act (優生保健法), induced abortion by a married woman “shall be subject to her husband’s consent unless her husband is missing, unconscious or deranged.”

A petition calling for the removal of the provision was on Wednesday last week launched on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Network Participation Platform, where it had already received more than 7,400 signatures as of yesterday.

Five thousand signatures are needed for petitions to be considered.  The marriage equality petition of 2018 garnered 330,000 signatures(I’ll admit that I didn’t sign it, but I didn’t know about it either or I would have.)  Like the change that granted marriage equality but only to Taiwanese couples or a Taiwanese with a foreigner from a country with marriate equality, this proposed change of law is flawed.  There should be abortion on demand with no conditions.

I suspect the Taiwan government is changing it this way because young people drove the Orange Revolution of 2014.  But the government also wants to restrict abortion to increase the population.  In 2020, the birth rate is 8.0 per thousand and death rate is 7.9 per thousandTaiwan has the lowest fertility rate in the world and third lowest birth rate, which means an ageing population and shortage of labour.

Limiting abortion is one way to reduce that.  Offering tax breaks and financial incentives would also help, but the country doesn’t offer that.  Women see themselves better off being single financially and career-wise, so they’re choosing not to have kids.




  1. anat says

    Is effective birth control easy to obtain in Taiwan?

    There is some similarity to abortion law in Israel (from 1977, underwent some changes over the years) in that the person seeking abortion has to provide a reason – to a committee of 2 doctors and a social worker up to 23 weeks of pregnancy, and to a committee of 5, I’m not sure about the composition, later on. But there was never any required permission of anyone else. Back in the day about 90% of requests were approved, over the years approvals got to the high 90s%, pretty much rubber stamping the requests. Most approved procedures are also paid by the government. And women whose reason for requesting abortion falls outside what the law approves (basically married women under age 40(?) with no physical or mental health issues in themselves or the fetus) know how to get approval anyway (pretend to be suicidal, for instance), yet there are still many illegal abortions performed (not in back alleys, fortunately, but in the offices of private doctors) because they want to avoid the committee, and keep their matters as private as possible. It’s ridiculous – women who want abortions are getting abortions, but some politicians can pretend they are doing something to reduce the number.

    • says

      Condoms, IUDs, the pill and others are readily available in Taiwan. But the “It failed? Too bad!” response is insufficient.

      Communist Czechoslovakia took the same attitude as Taiwan and Israel, “allowing” abortion but making it difficult to attain. And all three for the same reasons: limiting abortion as policy in an attempt to increase the population. The US’s NIH says that in 1957 there were more abortions in Czechoslovakia than live births, though I suspect the Soviet invasion against the 1956 Prague Spring had a lot to do with it. In 1958, Czechoslovakia made abortions much harder to attain.

      Guttmacher reports that over 1000 women die annually in the Philippines from illegal abortions, in a country where abortion remains illegal in all circumstances (rape, a woman’s health, etc.). It was only when the population reached 100 million and food insecurity became an issue that the government began talking about it other than as a “crime”.