BEIJING (ChurchMilitant.com) - China is now implementing a two-child policy, easing up on its restrictions in force since the 1970s limiting each family to only one child.
According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the Communist Party of China made the announcement Thursday after a week-long series of conferences addressing demographic concerns. The change of policy will have to be passed by the legislature in order to take effect.
Over the course of 35 years since its implementation, China's one-child policy has come under heavy criticism for its coercive enforcement. Intended as a measure to reduce population growth, the policy has often resulted in draconian fines, forced sterilizations, forced abortions, and even post-birth killing of infants through drowning, strangulation or by other means.
Some have documented the horrors endured by Chinese women — especially the poor living in rural areas — whose menstrual cycles are vigilantly charted by family planning officials. If women are found to be pregnant and over the quota, they're fined; if they can't pay, they're often arrested, hauled off to the local clinic, and forced to undergo abortions against their will. There are also reports of children born alive being drowned in buckets or having their necks broken.
Little girls are disproportionately affected, as girls born over the quota are often aborted or, if born, abandoned in favor of sons, valued more highly in Chinese culture. A number of these girls are left to languish in Chinese orphanages, where many die from sickness, malnutrition or neglect.
A massive imbalance has also resulted from the policy, with a disproportionately high number of men compared to women (most recent statistics show as many as 40 million more men than women in China), leading to lifelong bachelors unable to find wives, and increased sex trafficking because of women sent from foreign countries to fill in the gap.
Chinese women have confirmed the brutal practices of family planning officials. One report states a woman was forcibly dragged to the local clinic, strapped down onto a table and her abdomen injected with a lethal solution.
For two days she writhed on the table, her hands and feet still bound with rope, waiting for her body to eject the murdered baby. In the final stage of labor, a male doctor yanked the dead fetus out by the foot, then dropped it into a garbage can. She had no money for a cab. She had to hobble home, blood dripping down her legs and staining her white sandals red.
Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, dedicated to fighting China's coercive population control measures, remains skeptical of China's new move.
Speaking with ChurchMilitant.com, Littlejohn said, "Instituting a two-child policy, however, will not end forced abortion in China. Couples will still have to have a birth permit for the first and the second child, or they may be subject to forced abortion."
"The core of the One Child Policy is not whether the number of children the government allows," she says. "It's the fact that the government is setting a limit on children, and enforcing this limit coercively. That will not change under a two-child policy."
Littlejohn continues, "The One Child Policy does not need to be modified. It needs to be abolished. We need to keep up the pressure until China abandons all coercive population control."
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, also spoke with ChurchMilitant.com, and expressed similar concerns.
"The regime is backing away from draconian birth limits," says Mosher, "not because senior Party officials have suddenly developed a conscience. Rather, it will be because they have finally realized that a shrinking workforce and a rapidly aging population are crippling future economic growth."
He went on to criticize the government's involvement in family planning at all. "Now couples are allowed to have a second child. But don't expect it to stop there. A government bent on controlling the fertility of its people will do whatever necessary to produce the number of children it thinks necessary."
It's estimated around 400 million children — more than the entire population of the United States — have been aborted since implementation of the one-child policy in 1979.
Steven Mosher and Reggie Littlejohn spoke with ChurchMilitant.com on China's policy in this episode of Mic'd Up—Population Politics: