Premarital Sexuality, Abortion, and Intergenerational Dynamics in China

Susanne Y. P. CHOI*, Ruby Y. S. LAI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This article uses premarital abortion(s) as a window to examine diverse parental roles in adult unmarried daughters’ intimate lives in post-socialist China. It also addresses issues of premarital sex, premarital pregnancy, and the emergence of a dating culture. The article identifies four patterns of parent–adult daughter interactions during the decision-making process of premarital abortion: no recognizable parental role, referencing perceived parental views, consulting parents, and direct parental pressure to terminate pregnancy. The findings suggest that within the context of a mature dating culture in urban China and the prevalence of premarital sex, adult daughters have achieved considerable control over decisions about sex and intimacy. Nevertheless, many women have continued to consider parental views on their marriage and reproduction as crucial. Some women have even prioritized the preferences of their parents over those of their intimate partners because they consider intergenerational ties more enduring and reliable than ties between intimate partners.
Original languageEnglish
Article number009770041988052
JournalModern China
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Oct 2019


  • China
  • abortion
  • family
  • intergenerational relationships
  • reproduction
  • sexuality

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