Bioethics News

China ends one-child policy

After over 35 years of mass sterilization and forced abortion, the Chinese government has finally abandoned its notorious one-child policy.

The announcement, made on Thursday by the State run news agency Xinhua News, comes after decades of vocal criticism, both outside of the country and within, of the party’s coercive birth-control policy.

The government’s new ‘two-child policy’ is designed to “to improve the balanced development of population” and to deal with an aging population, Xinhua News reported.

China currently has one of the oldest populations in the world, with about 30% of population over the age of 50. It also has one of the biggest gender disparities: in 2004 approximately 121 males were born for every 100 girls. 

Oxford demographer Stuart Gietel-Basten, one of the most outspoken critics of the policy, celebrated the announcement.

“I’m shaking to be honest,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “It’s one of those things that you have been working on and saying for years and recommending they should do something and it finally happened.”

Gietel-Basten says the decision is smart policy: “From a political, pragmatic perspective, loosening the policy is good for the party but also it is a good thing for individual couples who want to have that second child. It is a kind of win-win for everybody”.

Others said that the announcement didn’t go far enough, and called on the government to totally abandon its population control policies.

“Even if people are allowed to have two children, what if they want to have three children or more?”, asked Liang Zhongtang, a demographer at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.