A Chinese health official has called for attention to risks facing rural women who dare not to seek professional maternal services because they are having more babies than the country's family planning policy allows.
"Some policy-breaking pregnant women, who dared not apply any financial aid of childbearing for fear of legal punishment, chose to deliver babies at home or in substandard private clinics which charge little but have more medical risks," said Vice Health Minister Jiang Zuojun at a recent national conference on women and children.
Statistics show about half of the maternal deaths in east China's Jiangxi province result from illegitimate pregnancies.
As the world's most populous nation, China has been following a strict family planning policy since the 1970s to contain its population growth.
The policy encourages late marriages and late childbearing, and limits most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two.
The family planning policy is credited with preventing 400 million new births in the country. However, underdeveloped social security network in rural region and people's deeply rooted traditional preference for male heirs has prompted some rural families to defy the policy by having more babies.
Meanwhile, those rule-defying pregnant women would rather risk death in giving birth to babies due to substandard childbearing conditions than a heavy fine.
Jiang said the government will hand out harsher penalties on substandard rural clinics and at the same time strengthening the building of rural medical facilities.
Local departments of health, women and children, civil affairs and public security should join efforts to reduce the death toll of rule-breaking pregnancy and to provide proper health services to rural women living in cities, Jiang added.