China struggling with parents planning C-sections & abortions to prevent babies with bad zodiac sign

Disturbing news from China Daily this week:

Many more babies will be born before the Year of the Horse ends, because couples in China try to avoid having babies in the Year of the Sheep, which starts on Feb 19, 2015. The reason: traditionally it is believed that “sheep babies” lead difficult lives...

But such is the influence of superstition on some people that they undergo cesarean section, even without going into labor, to give birth before the onset of a year they consider unlucky. Doctors warn that premature cesarean section is a violation of the laws of nature which could affect the baby’s brains and health, but some people ignore their advice.

In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  China News reported last month that:

maternity hospitals throughout China are overwhelmed with pregnant women having their babies born in the Year of the Horse… tens of thousands of mothers across China are keen to have a child… As a result, hospitals, especially in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai, reported wild overcrowding with pregnant women, making it extremely difficult for them to find a place to give birth…

[A] a random sampling recently at Maternal and Child Health Hospital and Mining Bureau Hospital in Zaozhuang city of East China’s Shangdong province… showed that 18 out of 25 expectant mothers would like to have their child by cesarean delivery before the arrival of the Year of the Sheep. Similar news reports can also be easily found in other cities around the country.

Can we please stop saying that “astrology is harmless entertainment?”   Given recent reports (New Age Rape Culture: Astrology Pseudoscientists Blame ‘Rape-Prone’ Women & the Planets That Make Men Rape and Rape Horoscopes: India TV News’ Latest Ratings Ploy), this is no amusing, quirky hobby.  Meanwhile, those evil scientific skeptics are trying to save babies from their parents’ superstition:

Gu Jun, professor of social science with Shanghai University, said that it’s unscientific to connect people’s fate to their year of birth. Meanwhile, flocking to have babies in the same year not only exhausts hospital resources…  it also arouses other social problems. These include fiercer competition for good schools, colleges, and employment for the children born in that year.  Liu Ciyuan, a researcher at the National Time Service Center of the Chinese Academy of Science, said that it makes no sense, and a man’s fortune is in his own hands, which has nothing to do with birth signs.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that:

Some doctors even have expressed worries that there may be a corresponding jump in abortions later this year, as couples realize they missed the horse-year cutoffMany patients have inquired about early delivery via Caesarean section to ensure a horse-year birth, said Li Jianjun, an obstetrician at Beijing’s United Family Hospital…

Again with the mean skeptics disrespecting others’ beliefs:

“We try our best to dissuade couples from believing the sheep superstitions,” one official at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said… [T]he subject has become such a prominent issue that it is often addressed in classes for would-be parents.  But the medical professionals do not have an easy sell. The official said that even her colleagues at the disease-control center are obsessed with the supposed luck a horse year brings… “It’s an unfair and outdated superstition,” said Dong Mengzhi, 74, honorary president of Beijing’s Folk Literature and Art Society. “But it’s a convenient way for many to explain an unpredictable world.”…

Others who fear they will miss their window have flocked to support groups that have sprung up online.

One can only imagine the prejudice “sheep children” will face if their parents have to seek support to deal with a) trying not to have them, and b) the crushing disappointment of not having a “horse child” instead.  Fortunately, Feng-Shui masters are trying to get parents to time their zodiac caesarean more scientifically:

“To us true feng-shui masters, the zodiac doesn’t matter at all,” said Wen Chaoliang, 39. “What matters most isn’t the year you are born but the exact time of delivery.”… For $500, Wen said, he has been helping couples pick the most fortuitous hours for their planned C-sections. For an extra $130, he throws in a lucky name. For $3,000, he will rearrange your home’s furniture to ensure the best possible future for your child.

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