Hong Kong raises maternity fee28th March 2007
Women who aren't resident in Hong Kong must now pay a hefty HK$39,000 (£2,500) fee up front if they wish to give birth in the territory, as the authorities try to quell the rising tide of mainland Chinese choosing to give birth across the border.
From Feb 1 this year, not only are any non-Hong Kong residents obliged to pay the HK$39,000 antenatal booking fee, no woman with a pregnancy beyond 28 weeks' gestation can cross the Hong Kong-mainland China border unless she can prove she has made such a booking either privately or publicly.
Those who show up at a hospital in labour will incur a penalty charge of HK$45,000.
While the phenomenon of mainland-Chinese wives of Hong Kong residents giving birth in Hong Kong is already a familiar one, what has alarmed the community is an increase in the number of mainland women doing so who have no connection to the former British colony at all.
While Hong Kong's government health service is virtually free to residents, higher charges can still be incurred by those who don't hold an identity card from its Immigration Department. The new law introducing the antenatal fee makes use of this flexibility in the system.
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