Oddly Enough

College forces pregnancy tests on students

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese technical college for boarders has defended compulsory pregnancy tests for students as a responsibility to them and their families, local media reported Friday.

The college in Urumqi, capital of the far western region of Xinjiang, had tested new students for several years and would ask those who tested positive to leave, the Beijing News said, citing students.

“We are a closed boarding school. Every year we ask new students to take routine health checks. The pregnancy tests are just a part of that. This is a duty toward the students and families,” the paper quoted an unnamed school official as saying.

The school, where girls aged 17 and 18 comprise 70 to 80 percent of new spring semester students, gathered “whole classes” of girls into a hall to pass urine samples on to doctors, the paper said.

“If a student with an abnormal result is discovered, doctors will report it immediately to the school’s student board,” the paper said.

Some students with positive results had voluntarily quit the school and others had been asked to transfer. Students had borrowed class-mates’ urine to avoid the tests, the paper said.

“The idea of being tested as soon as entering the school makes me feel very uncomfortable,” the paper quoted Xiao Tang, a new student, as saying.

Other students were more sympathetic, describing the tests as a “warning.”

“It’s a big loss of face to be tested pregnant,” student Xiao Ping said.

Economic reforms have loosened state control over people’s personal lives in China, where, as little as 20 years ago, paternal “work units” would commonly approve marriages and child birth.

But birth out of wedlock remains taboo and heavy-handed enforcement of China’s one-child policy, including forced abortions, is common in poor rural areas, rights groups have said.