757 mothers pregnant again after losing children in quake

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Officials of the National Population and Family Planning Commission told a conference in Beijing Friday that 757 Chinese mothers who lost children in the May 12 quake have become pregnant again, reflecting special exceptions to national and local population policies.

As of Dec. 31, the officials told the agency's annual work conference, 5,724 bereaved mothers had received free reproduction services, including counseling, guidance, health exams, sterilization reversals and fertility treatments.

The 8.0-magnitude quake that struck southwestern Sichuan Province is known to have killed nearly 70,000 people, many of whom were children.

Under China's "one-child" policy, which has been in effect for more than three decades as a policy and then a law to curb population growth, most urban couples can have only one child. Rural couples are allowed to have two children if the first is a girl.

According to the Sichuan provincial population commission, more than 10,000 families with one or two children born under the family planning law lost children in the quake.

In a circular issued after the quake, the national commission said families whose children were killed or disabled in the disaster should be allowed to have more children. Also, in late July, the Sichuan Provincial People's Congress passed a regulation stating that parents who lost an only child or whose children were disabled in the quake could bear another.

In addition, people who lost spouses in the quake and remarried can have another child, if the new couple has no more than two children from previous marriages.

Vegetable vendor Tian Shaolin, 34, who lives in quake-battered Beichuan County, said he and his wife had consulted the county reproduction service station about having another baby. They lost their 5-year-old son in the quake.

"My wife has been depressed since our son's death. Maybe it will be a little better if we can have another child," he said.

Li Bin, director of the national commission, promised his agency would continue to help bereaved families in the new year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2009)

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