According to a Reuters report this week, “All content on family planning has been dropped in a draft civil code being deliberated by top lawmakers on Monday, the Procuratorate Daily [a state-run newspaper affiliated with China’s prosecutor’s office] wrote in a post on its Weibo account.” News of this Weibo [Twitter-like] post sparked a spate of headlines heralding that China is about to “end,”and “scrap”the two-child policy, “finishing decades of family planning.”
However, two articles this week in the China Daily– the official, English-language newspaper published by the People’s Republic of China – quashed these speculations.
In “Removal of family planning in draft doesn’t mean end of policy,”China Dailyacknowledges that the reference to family planning has been removed from the draft Marriage and Adoption sections of the Civil Code. However, it remains in the family planning section of the code:
“Given the country’s demographic situation, the decision [to remove family planning clauses from the Marriage and Adoption sections] has triggered widespread speculation as to whether it is meant to pave the way for the abolishment of the country’s decades-old family planning policy. However, legislators explained on Tuesday that there’s a special law on family planning, so there’s no need to include similar content in the marriage section while drafting the civil code. Related regulations can still be found in the Population and Family Planning Law.” (Emphasis added.)
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, stated, “The statement from China Dailydoes not eliminate the possibility that China is considering the abolition of its brutal population control program. It does, however, clarify that the deletion of family planning content from the civil code sections on marriage and adoption law is irrelevant to this potential policy change. It seems that again, the media has jumped the gun in proclaiming the end of “family planning” in China.
“We continue to press for the complete elimination of all coercive population control measures, effective immediately. Now, under the two-child policy, all couplescan have two children. Single women and third children, however, remain at risk for forced abortion. In addition, girls – especially second daughters – remain at risk of sex-selective abortion. We urge the Chinese government to specify that all women – not just married women – can have as many children as they want. We also urge them to provide strong incentives for baby girls. We have saved hundreds of girls through our Save a Girl Campaign. We would encourage the Chinese government to implement such a campaign nationally.”
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“In addition,” Littlejohn continued, “we need to guard against forced pregnancy. On August 17, it was reported that two Chinese scholars proposed the creation of a “procreation fund,” into which couples of childbearing age would be forced to pay if they had fewer than two children. Given the desperation the Chinese government faces because of its rapidly aging population, I could see a move by the Chinese government to pressure all couples who are eligible to have a second child into having a second child, whether they want a second child or not. This would be preposterous. The Chinese Government needs to stop functioning as womb police and let go of the idea that women’s bodies are domain of the state.”
The abolition of coercive birth limits will not end gendercide in China, because many couples in China choose to have small families. Many do not want a second child, because of limited resources of time and money. Because strong son preference remains, baby girls will continue to be selectively aborted and abandoned; people want their only child, or one of their two children, to be a boy. Second daughters, therefore, remain especially vulnerable, even with the abolition of coercive birth limits.
“Because of the ongoing impact of the One-Child Policy and continuing coercive population control,” Littlejohn concluded, “hundreds of millions of Chinese women have been forcibly aborted, tens of millions of girls have been selectively aborted, and women from within China and throughout the world are being sucked into sexual slavery. China’s population problem is not that it has too many people, but rather that it has too few young people to sustain its rapidly aging elderly population, as well as a critical shortage of girls. China’s One Child Policy has caused more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth and any other policy in human history. This is the true war against women.”