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Law Clarifies Men's Right to Have Children

The nation's first legislation on family planning and population will help assuage the anger and disappointment of husbands at their wives' refusal to bear a child.

All citizens, men and women, have the right to have a child and they have equal responsibility in performing family planning, according to the Law on Family Planning and Population, which was approved by the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress on Saturday.

The law stipulates that the country encourages a couple to bear one child, and they can have a second child if their circumstances meet the provisions.

The detailed provisions on family planning for China's ethnic minorities should be made by provincial, municipal and autonomous regional people's congresses or their standing committees.

"It is the first time that men's right to have a child is clearly stipulated in a law," said Wu Changzhen, a professor of marriage and family law with China University of Politics and Law.

Some 10 percent of spouses of childbearing age in Beijing chose to live without a child, according to Sunday's Beijing Morning Post.

The paper said there are some 600,000 dinky (double income, no kids) families in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

But some of these people may change their mind while problems concerning men's rights in having children have come under the spotlight in recent years.

Earlier this month, a man in northwest China's Shaanxi Province sued his wife for having an induced abortion without his consent. He also sued the hospital which conducted the surgery on his wife.

The local court refused to hear the case on the ground that there was no specific legal regulation in this regard.

Women have the right to choose whether to bear a child, according to the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights.

"Women's rights in childbearing have been highlighted because they often remain in a relatively weaker position in a society where traditional ideas on birth still dominate," Wu said.

The clear stipulation on men's rights in having children will help these worried husbands find a solution through legal proceedings.

"The legislation will provide judges with legal grounds to hear such cases when the couple fail to reach an agreement on whether to have a child," Wu said.

The law will come into force on September 1.

(China Daily December 31, 2001)

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