Premarital Abortion in China : Intimacy, Family and Reproduction

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Drawing on participant observations, in-depth interviews and content analysis of online materials, Lai investigates the role of individual choice, relationships and institutions in unmarried Chinese women’s decisions to terminate their pregnancies.

Where many previous studies have focused on abortion in China as a state-mandated procedure to enforce the one-child policy, Lai looks at a new era, where abortion is primarily based on individuals’ decisions. While women in China have become increasingly well-educated, free to travel and work, and thus accumulate social and economic capital, Lai finds they nevertheless face structural constraints from both old duties and new expectations. Marriage is still regarded as an indispensable life event, and procreation and caregiving key obligations, but at the same time there is new pressure to contribute to economic development. Experiences of abortion are deeply intertwined with the institution of family, the state, and the market, and Lai documents the impact of sweeping socioeconomic transformation on reproductive decisions made by unmarried adult women in contemporary China amidst the ending of the one-child policy.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages198
ISBN (Electronic)9781000785302
ISBN (Print)9781032286525, 9781032286518
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Ruby Y. S. Lai. All rights reserved.


  • Abortion
  • Family
  • Sexuality
  • China
  • Gender
  • Feminism
  • Reproductive rights
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Intimacy
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Reproduction


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