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Healthcare in Hong Kong
Contraception and Abortion in Hong Kong
Expatriate women usually have a few more health issues to consider than male expats. First, they need to find a gynecologist in Hong Kong. Moreover, it helps to be informed about reproductive issues. Our guide to women’s health talks about ob/gyns as well contraception and abortion in Hong Kong.
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Similar to other medication, you do not have to worry about adding three years’ worth of contraceptives to your list of Hong Kong imports. Condoms, hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, implants, injections), diaphragms and intra-uterine devices (IUDs) are all available. You can buy condoms as well as some types of birth control pills at any of the numerous drugstores and pharmacies in Hong Kong.
Some generic oral contraceptives are even sold over the counter, without a prescription from your doctor. However, it is still recommended to seek advice from your gynecologist before using birth control pills. In urgent situations, you may also receive emergency contraceptive pills in Hong Kong. However, in order to get these, you have to see your doctor or pay a visit to the Family Planning Association.
That being said, you should keep in mind that the NuvaRing, a type of contraception which is particularly popular in the USA and the UK, is currently not available in Hong Kong. If this is your contraception of choice, you should stock up before your move. Another thing to keep in mind is that most private health insurance policies do not cover contraception, as they do not consider it a necessity. Unfortunately, this often leaves the women with the costs which can be quite a lot. The birth control pill costs around HKD 90 per month, the IUD is about HKD 1,500 each and even condoms can set you back HKD 100 for a ten-pack.
This might be one reason why, despite the availability of contraception, abortion in Hong Kong is fairly common. We are going to discuss the prevalence of abortion in Hong Kong and related issues below.
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As in many other places, abortion in Hong Kong is a rather problematic topic. Children born outside marriage are often regarded as illegitimate, and, despite laws against discrimination in Hong Kong, the social stigma of unmarried women with children may still be high. With this sort of pressure on unmarried pregnant women, many an abortion in Hong Kong is performed illegally. Quite a few pregnant women also travel to Mainland China instead of having an abortion in Hong Kong, due to lower costs and more lenient laws.
The official rate of abortion in Hong Kong used to be pretty high, with about 420 pregnancy terminations to every 1,000 live births in 2001. However, this ratio has been dropping considerably. Of course, it’s hard to tell whether unreported abortion in Hong Kong is still an issue, or whether less conservative attitudes and more contraception are having an effect.
Abortion in Hong Kong is actually legal under certain conditions. Section 47 of the Offences against the Person Ordinance determines that an abortion is considered legal if two registered doctors have to come to the conclusion that
- the pregnancy would risk the life of the pregnant woman or cause injury to her physical or mental health which is greater than the injury the abortion would cause
- there is a substantial risk that the child would suffer from serious disabilities
- the woman in question is younger than 16 years old
- the woman was the victim of a crime such as rape, incest, or abuse.
However, abortion in Hong Kong is usually done on demand, rather than for medical or criminal reasons. The first condition for abortion in Hong Kong is often interpreted very widely: Thus most cases are covered by law. However, no pregnancy may be terminated after the 24th week.
The procedure is performed either at a clinic run by the Family Planning Association or, with a referral letter, at a designated public hospital. The FPA only performs abortions until the 10th week, and patients have to take a waiting period of one to three weeks into account. Alternatively, you can turn directly to a private hospital, as most expat women in such a difficult situation do. Both alternatives should offer you counseling before and after an abortion in Hong Kong.