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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Real-name registration for morning-after pills sparks controversy in east China city

(Xinhua)

09:48, December 29, 2011

FUZHOU, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- For many Chinese women, it is embarrassing enough to take morning-after pills after unprotected sex. Now try telling them to register their names before every purchase.

In Fuzhou, capital of east Fujian province, buyers of emergency contraception are now forced to register their names, phone numbers, and ID cards in the pharmacy, a rule that has set off a firestorm of protest on the Internet.

Online criticism stated that the registration, enforced by the local food and drug administration to battle "illegal abortion," was a blatant breach of privacy.

Other discussion centered on the rule's impact on adolescent pregnancy, as young girls without ID cards would have difficulties buying such pills to preclude an unwanted pregnancy.

PROTECT WOMEN FROM HARM

The Fuzhou Food and Drug Administration, which implemented the rule on Dec. 21, said it was intended to protect women from the harmful misuse of the pills.

"As several emergency contraceptive pills contain mifepristone, which can be used as an abortifacient, some private clinics have used them to abort girls because a boy was the preference," said Wu Xingfa, head of the administration.

In China, emergency contraceptives containing mifepristone are sold over the counter, which means illegal practitioners have easy access to the pills, and the real-name registration would help deter such practices, Wu said.

The rule has now been enforced in several cities in the province, such as Xiamen and Sanming.

Regarding the privacy, Wu said the protection of clients' personal information fell beyond the administration's authority, while local drugstores said they are not well-equipped for the job.

"We drugstores just follow the order to collect information and submit them to police and health authorities for scrutiny, and we don't have the resources to protect such data from leaking," said a drugstore staff member in Fuzhou.

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