A debate on the criminalization of sex identification of embryos for pregnant women between Chinese lawmakers resumed on Tuesday.
The provision in the draft Sixth Amendment of the Criminal Code had been proposed as a way to prevent the marked imbalance in births towards males.
However, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) was sharply divided when the issue came up in the first of three legislative reviews last December.
Members heard in the second review Tuesday that the draft law provided penalties of up to three years in jail, probation and fines for those involved in gender identification of embryos for non-medical purposes.
A Standing Committee official said that some members considered the provision necessary to curb the country's abnormal sex ratio and prevent the use of abortion as a means of sex selection.
Opponents maintained the law was unreasonable and impossible to police as evidence of any crime would be hard to collect and it would be difficult to judge if an abortion had come about because of sex identification.
Considering the significant differences the NPC Law Committee left the provision unchanged and the draft amendment had been submitted to the Standing Committee for further review, he said.
Statistics from the State Family Planning Commission show 117 boys born for every 100 girls in China which is well above the international average of 107 males to 104 females.
(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2006)