Relaxing China One-Child Policy Reduces Abortions, Sex-Selection

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Relaxing China One-Child Policy Reduces Abortions, Sex-Selection Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 15, 2005

Changjiang, China ( — A pilot program to experiment with the effect of relaxing China’s coercive one-child policy that results in forced abortions and sterilizations shows that the number of abortions and sex-selection abortions declines.

Sixteen months after lifting birth-spacing rules for familles in a rural Chinese province, the United Nations Population Fund reports that fewer abortions occurred and there were fewer sex-selection abortions targeting girl babies.

Most of China strictly enforces the one-child policy and local family planning officials often force women to submit to abortions or sterilizations and imprisonment, fines, and threats against family members are not uncommon.

In rural China, most provinces allow for a second child to help work family farms. Previously, residents were permitted to have a second child but they were required to wait four years after the birth of the first child or pay a substantial penalty, called a "social compensation fee" often twice the annual income for more Chinese residents.

In 2003, when birth spacing rules were still in place, the social compensation fee was applied in 299 cases in Changjiang County; last year in 54 cases and this year 37 so far, according to Li Zhiyong, Director of the county family planning bureau.

The policy could help reduce the severe gender imbalance that has resulted as girl babies are targeted through abortions and infanticide. The practices have produced a culture in which women are in short supply and it’s led to sex trafficking as well.

Residents of Changjiang County, where an estimated 245,000 people live, say the relaxed rules also helped them communicate better with family planning officials and hospital delivery of babies has increased and maternal deaths have lowered.

Three other provinces — Gansu, Jilin and Shanghai — are looking at similar reforms and other provinces are considering them as well.