Chinese women forced to register for morning-after pill

It's not easy for women in a Chinese province to have unprotected sex and then buy morning-after pills as the government has made it compulsory to register using "real names" before every purchase. In Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, buyers of emergency contraception are now forced to register their names, phone numbers, and identity cards in any pharmacy, said Xinhua.

This rule has set off a firestorm of criticism on the internet. Web users said the registration, enforced by the local food and drug administration to battle "illegal abortion", was a blatant breach of privacy. People said it would have a massive impact on adolescent pregnancy, because young girls without identity cards would face difficulties in buying such pills to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

The Fuzhou Food and Drug Administration, which implemented the rule 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 administration head Wu Xingfa.

Emergency contraceptives containing mifepristone are regularly sold over the counter, and illegal practitioners have easy access to the pills. The real-name registration would help deter such practices, he said. The rule has been enforced in several cities like Xiamen and Sanming. Regarding privacy, Wu said protection of clients' personal information fell beyond the administration's authority. 

Local drugstores also said they were not well-equipped for the job. "We drugstores just follow orders to collect information and submit them to police and health authorities for scrutiny. We don't have the resources to protect such data from leaking," said a drugstore owner.

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