The legislature of China's most populous province approved a package of laws on Friday afternoon to ban fetal gender selection by abortion.
The Henan legislature passed 24 items banning all the fetal gender identification and resulting abortions expect for medical reasons to take effect from Jan. 1 next year.
The province, which has more than 100 million registered residents, has already set up gender imbalance control offices at all levels of the government to monitor its implementation.
Those who violate the laws face fines of 10,000 to 30,000 yuan (1,250 to 3,750 U.S. dollars), at least five times the yearly average income of a local family.
Organizations or hospitals providing such services could have their licences revoked and equipment confiscated.
The laws will also rigorously limit the applications of the related medical technologies, especially tightening the control over ultrasonic B, chromosome technologies and abortion operations and drugs.
Fetal gender identification for medical reasons must be approved by at least three doctors and the ensuing abortion must be approved by the population and family planning department of at least a county government.
China's fifth population census in 2000 showed the ratio between newborn boys and girls in Henan was 118.46:100, considerably higher than the normal ratio of 103-107:100.
The most direct cause of the imbalance was gender identification with the "advanced technologies" and abortions of female fetuses, said Meng Xianchen, director of Henan Population and Family Planning Commission.
The gender imbalance reflects a deep-rooted view among Chinese people, dating back thousands of years, that boys are more valued than girls, and the fact that most Chinese couples are allowed only one child.
In some rural areas in China, where labor is short, the sexual discrimination is especially obvious.
A survey last year showed that the newborn gender gap had grown to 118.58:100, and the situation was most serious in the provinces of Shaanxi, Henan, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan.
An analysis by the State Population and Family Planning Commission forecast that in the next ten years, men aged 20 to 34 would outnumber women of the same age by ten million.
About ten percent of boys born in the 1990s would not find a spouse, said experts.
"It is the government's obligation to guarantee a reasonable structure of the population. I do not want to see that my son cannot find a wife in the future," said Liu Xiangyang, a citizen of Henan's capital city Zhengzhou.
With China worried that it does not have enough girls, the central government is implementing policies to counter the country's worsening gender imbalance.
A nationwide "caring for girls" campaign, prompted by the central government's determination to narrow the imbalance over the next three to five years, is expected to supplement the laws.
Daughter-only families will receive an annual allowance of 600 yuan (75 U.S. dollars) if the parents are over 60 years old and will also get preferential loans to help with agricultural production, said Zhang Jian, head of publicity at the State Population and Family Planning Commission, the sponsor of the campaign.
The government aims to bring the newborn gender ratio back to normal by 2016.
"China has focused too much on controlling population numbers, now it is time to focus on the structure of the population," Zhang said.