Report Calls on China to Give Up Forced-Abortion Population Control Policy

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 16, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Report Calls on China to Give Up Forced-Abortion Population Control Policy Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 16, 2005

Beijing, China ( — A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine says China should scrap its one-child population control policy that has resulted in forced abortions and sterilizations for those who violate it. The respected medical publication says more wealth and freedom in China means the policy is outdated.

The policy has drawn worldwide condemnation for its treatment of those who violate it.

Sanctions imposed against violators of the policy include heavy fines, loss of employment, and threats and intimidation for families for those who exceed their child quota. Women have been forcibly aborted, men sterilized, and some jailed for years for violating the policies.

"With the freedoms that have resulted from wealth and globalization, the one-child policy seems increasingly anachronistic," says the NEJM report, published Wednesday. "A relaxation of the one-child policy would be desirable."

Titled "The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy After 25 Years," the NEJM report says the population control policy has led to a sever gender imbalance with males outnumbering females by large margins.

Chinese statistics show that there are 117 males for every 100 females in the country. That has led to an extensive underground market for buying and selling women, forced prostitution, and other crimes.

Also, NEJM says sick female infants tent to receive inadequate medical treatment.

China argues the population control policy has been successful in that it has helped build China’s economic prosperity and saved the country from having about 300 million more people — about the population of the United States.

But NEJM argues that "progress" means the policy is outdated.

Hao Linna, an official with China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, told the Associated Press the report’s analysis was "fine" but she said the government was not yet ready to make changes in its policy.

"I don’t think that [the family planning policy] is unchangeable, but as to when and how, we have to do some more research on it," Hao said. "It’s a very big decision."

China has begun some changes. Because couples can only have one child, and pressured by cultural norms that favor boys over girls, girl babies are often victims of abortion or infanticide.

A new Chinese program that will pay couples to have girl babies hopes to change that.

Under the new policy, thousands of poor rural families who are more likely to end the lives of girl babies, will be paid $200 per year if they only have girls. The goal is to change the traditional preference for boys by raising the value of daughters.

Still, pressure to meet population control targets hasn’t stopped cases of forced imprisonment, forced abortions and sterilizations, and oppressive tactics against family members of those who have more than one child.

Li Juan, a 24-year-old peanut farmer from Shandong Province was nine months pregnant when population control officials forcibly took her in February to a hospital for an abortion. Li has a son, born in 2003, and her baby violated the one-child policy.

Stories like Li’s are commonplace but the NEJM report did not address the issue of forced abortions and sterilizations. The report did indicate that 25 percent of Chinese women have had an abortion, compared with 43 percent in the United States.