More Than 300M Abortions Under One-Child Policy

Amid the reorganization of the agency that oversees the one-child policy, some critics are questioning whether the policy will be relaxed or eliminated completely. Due to the enforcement of the one-child policy, China has performed numerous birth-control procedures. From The International Business Times:

The Chinese have enacted more than a half-billion birth-control procedures, including 336 million abortions, since 1971. In addition, Chinese medical officials sterilized almost 200 million men and women since the policy was initiated. They have also inserted more than 400 million intra-uterine devices in women, sometimes by force.

[…] The Daily Telegraph reported that, according to Beijing government researchers, China records 13 million abortions annually, or 1,500 every hour.

[…] “This makes China’s population look more like a developed country than a developing one, which is a key disadvantage in labor-intensive industries,” Ken Peng, an economist with BNP Paribas, said, according to the Financial Times.

[…] “We need to find a new family-planning policy to fit with the times,” Huang Jiefu, a former vice minister at the Health Ministry, said. “Where else in the world can you find a family-planning bureau? It was quite appropriate to fold it into the [Health] Ministry.”

There are also some analysts who suspect that there will be an evaluation of the success of the policy. For the Atlantic, journalists Dorinda Elliott and Alexa Olesen weigh in on the possible end of the one-child policy. Dorinda Elliott says:

One example: I had a chilling conversation on a recent trip to Zheijiang with a jolly, somewhat pudgy small-town propaganda official that made me think hard about the inherent cruelty of the One-Child Policy. In little more than one breath, he talked about his current work, which is to help build a “civilized society” (whatever that means), and then about his old job as a police officer, when he had to enforce the One-Child Policy.

I asked him what he did when someone didn’t want to have an abortion. “We did work,” he replied. And what does that mean, I asked. “Well,” he said reluctantly, clearly embarrassed, “we used force.”

Alexa Olesen comments on forced abortion:

I had a similar experience interviewing a clinic official about a forced abortion case in 2006. The mother had been within weeks of her due date. The official confirmed that they aborted her baby because “she hadn’t followed the rules.” This was her first child but she had gotten pregnant before applying for the necessary birth permit. It was a horrifying story. Unsurprisingly, the victim’s lawyer said he thought the real issue was an unpaid bribe.

I wanted to add something about whether this policy was in fact “a necessary evil.” This is the essential question and its answer will determine how the policy is painted in history books, either as a measure that helped lift millions out of poverty and fast-track China to prosperity, or a cruel and unnecessary restriction that caused immeasurable heartache and suffering … or, maddeningly, both those things.

See also How Many Fetuses Killed in 40 Years, via CDT.


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