Chinese social media was flooded with comments from women fed up with what they see as government efforts to control their bodies, describing the apparent U-turn on abortion as a desperate attempt to boost the country's dwindling birth rates. "The female body has become a tool," said one top comment on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform. "When (the state) wants you to bear a child, you must do it at all cost. When (the state) doesn't want it, you're not allowed to give birth even at the risk of death."
The abortion policy was included in an expansive government blueprint to further women's rights over the next decade, covering areas ranging from education to employment, which state-run media boasted would improve gender equality "to a higher level in the new era."