Reproductive Freedom

China Creates Another Exception to the 'One Child' Rule


The Chinese government plans to further relax its restrictions on reproduction by allowing families living in cities to have two children if one parent has no siblings. The so-called "one child" policy already makes exceptions for urban parents when both are single children, for rural couples whose first child is a girl, and for certain ethnic groups. The shift is part of the government's grudging acknowledgment that its draconian limits on family size, supposedly necessary to prevent overpopulation, have had serious unintended consquences, including a lopsided ratio of old to young and a shortage of women (the result of sex-selective abortions by boy-preferring parents). "By 2050, more than a quarter of the population will be over 65," the BBC reports. "By the end of the decade, demographers say China will have 24 million 'leftover men' who, because of China's gender imbalance, will not be able to find a wife." As Vice President Joe Biden explained a couple of years, ago, the "one child" policy is "not sustainable." 

It also happens to be cruel, tyrannical, and in many instances appallingly brutal. Although Diane Francis and Thomas Friedman may be upset, anyone who values liberty and human dignity should welcome what appears to be the gradual (very gradual) reversal of a policy that entails violating people's basic rights on a huge scale. 

In a 2007 Reason article, I considered the relationship between China's reproductive restrictions and its international adoption program.