Medicine: Mabiki

The primitive Japanese rice farmer thinning out seedlings calls the process mabiki —to make intervals. Colloquially, the word means infanticide, used to space surviving children. In Japan today, the term might well find new use. Abortion is rampant, and human seedlings are being thinned as drastically as the tender rice shoots.

There are 2,000,000 births a year in Japan, and there is probably one abortion for each live birth, the University of Rochester's Dr. Wesley T. Pommerenke reports in Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. This he believes to be the world's highest abortion rate, though he admits that it is impossible to prove...

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