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BEIJING, January 14, 2011 ( – While some western reports have claimed that the People’s Republic of China is loosening restrictions on births, one former law professor is suing the government after he was targeted by Beijing’s local “family planning” commission with a fine of over 240,000 Yuan (US$36,264) for having had a second child, reports the Global Times.

The penalty, which the authorities referred to as a “social maintenance fee,” is more than the equivalent of nine times the average disposable income earned by urban residents. Yang Zhizhu was fired from his position as an associate professor of law at the China Youth University for Political Sciences because of his violation of the One Child policy. 

Yang is suing the Beijing commission, claiming that there is in fact no law restricting Chinese couples to one child each.

“Although China’s Population and Family Planning Law encourages a couple to only have one child, it has never forced people to do so,” Yang wrote on his blog, according to the Global Times. “And there are no laws or regulations mentioning the concept of having children illegally.”

Yang’s lawyer, Zhou Ze, argued in court that the “social maintenance fee,” which is supposed to cover the cost of the second child’s public benefits such as health care and schooling, was supposed to have been calculated according to the income of the parent. The fine is too high, said Zhou Ze, because after he was removed from his teaching position, his income is now less than 100 Yuan per month, the equivalent of about US$15.00.

In related news, official statistics from the Chinese government show that the abortion rate, already one of the highest in the world, is rising, particularly among young, unmarried women.

Figures released by the government show that the number of abortions increased from 7.6 million in 2007 to 9.2 million in 2008. State media outlets have said the total could be as high as 13 million, which would give China one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

As China’s material prosperity grows, more young, single women, especially students, are voluntarily opting for abortion, at their own expense, in addition to the abortions mandated by the communist government’s official One Child policy.

The Associated Press reports that some hospitals and freestanding abortion facilities in Beijing are offering students government-subsidised discounts, while others place adverts in college handbooks.

AP quotes Zhou Anqin, manager at an abortion clinic in Xi-an, saying, “The moral outrage over having a child before marriage in our society is much stronger than the shame associated with abortion.”