Bioethics Blogs

Reflections from one of China’s planned generation

Yeyang Su speaks about the personal and relational aspects that are silent in China’s family-planning policy deliberations.


On October 29th 2015, China announced that it would amend its family-planning policy by increasing the one-child restriction to two children. Already, a lot has been said about this on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. As one of the one-child generation, I would like to add my voice to the conversation.

I was born in a medium-sized coastal city in the early 1980s. Growing up, I was told stories about how my dad was originally disappointed that I was born a girl and how he nearly sent me away when my mom was pregnant again. I stayed. My mom had to terminate her second pregnancy, which is said to have been a boy. After the termination of her second pregnancy, my mom was given an intrauterine device for birth control.

The first of these two stories is still jokingly mentioned at our family gatherings to mock men’s preferences for boys, as my girl cousins and I have proven that girls are equal to boys, at least in education. But, the stories about the unborn and about what women had to go through – often by themselves – in order to comply with the one-child policy are typically silenced.

Yeyang Su with her Grandma and cousins in the mid-1980s

In 1957 economist Ma Yinchu proposed regulating population growth in China in response to the dramatic increase in population size since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949.

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.