Pregnant Women May Be Turned Away From Hong Kong

Women from mainland China who are seven months pregnant or more and wish to enter Hong Kong could be turned away at the border after a new measure is implemented in February. Pregnant women will need to provide proof that a local hospital has made arrangements for their birth, or they will be “denied entry and repatriated,” according to AFP. The policy is aimed at deterring the rising number of nonresidents who come to Hong Kong each year to give birth and ensuring that residents have priority access to care. The pregnant women will also face doubled delivery charges (a minimum fee of $5,000) if there is open hospital space and they are accepted.

The Associated Press reports that Chinese women often go to Hong Kong to give birth to avoid paying fines under mainland China’s one-child-per-family policy, to gain automatic Hong Kong residency rights for their baby, or to take advantage of Hong Kong”s cheaper rates and high quality of care. According to an AFP report, many women return to China without paying their bills, leaving the Hong Kong”s Hospital Authority with $41 million in debt in the last five years, two thirds of which is attributed to nonresidents.

In 2006, approximately 20,000 mainland Chinese women had reportedly given birth in Hong Kong. As a result, pregnant residents of Hong Kong report showing up to already full maternity wards. The measure will not be imposed upon pregnant women of other nationalities. Law Yuk-Kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, criticized the measure saying, “Why is it just Chinese women, not women from other places? … This is unfair, that we choose to target a certain group of people. Women can have a lot of legitimate reasons to travel and people should ask why only women are being discriminated [against].”
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AFP 1/17/07; Kaiser Daily Women�s Health Policy Report 1/18/07; The Associated Press 1/17/07; telegraph.co.uk 1/18/07; Reuters 1/16/07; US State Department

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