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China’s change to 3-child policy still unacceptable, pro-lifers say

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WASHINGTON (BP) – The Chinese government’s expansion of its population-control policy to permit three children per family should not be a reason for rejoicing, pro-life advocates said.

The National People’s Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officially enacted the change for married couples to a three-child policy Aug. 20. The revision, first announced in May, came less than five years after the CCP had altered its long-standing one-child policy to allow two children per family in its coercive population-control program that has included forced abortions and sterilizations.

Despite the increase in how many children a husband and a wife can have, the policy is still an unacceptable encroachment on liberty and the sanctity of human life by China’s government, opponents of the policy said.

“Once again, the Chinese Communist Party has overstepped the boundaries of government and believes they ought to determine what is best for families,” said Chelsea Sobolik, acting director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “At the end of the day, the Chinese government is trying to insert itself into the relationship between mothers and fathers. No government on earth should conduct itself in this manner.

“The Chinese government should immediately end its efforts to control families and enact policies that promote the protection, dignity and flourishing of all people in China,” Sobolik said in a written statement.

Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation said the United States “should oppose the CCP’s coercive ‘family planning’ and support the rights of the Chinese people to have as many children as they desire.”

Enos, senior policy analyst in Heritage’s Asian Studies Center, made her comments in a June 11 post after the three-child policy was announced.

In her post, Enos encouraged the Biden administration to reconsider its restoration of funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has been linked to support of China’s coercive population-control program. The Trump administration withheld money for the UNFPA.

China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1979, generally restricted Chinese couples to a single offspring, although exceptions were permitted in the years preceding the change to a two-child limit. The magnitude of a population-control program that included coerced abortion and contraception, as well as reports of infanticide, was illustrated in 2013. At that time, Beijing reported the following statistics since 1971, when it began population limits: 336 million abortions performed; 196 million sterilizations conducted; and 403 million intrauterine devices inserted.

Despite China’s conversion to a two-child policy as of January 2016, the central and provincial governments in the world’s most populous country continued to penalize those who exceeded the limit, according to the U.S. State Department. Citing its 2016 human rights report, the department said the communist giant’s policy still relies on “mandatory pregnancy examinations and coercive abortions and sterilizations.”

Reggie Littlejohn, a persistent opponent of China’s population-control program as president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, warned the CCP’s coercion regarding births would persist under a three-child policy. She issued a similar warning when the two-child limit was announced.

The new policy “is nothing to celebrate,” Littlejohn said in a written statement May 31 when the change was announced.  “A three-child policy keeps the ‘womb police’ in business. They will still be tracking women’s fertility and birth, and punishing those who find themselves ‘illegally pregnant.’”

The change to a two-child limit has not produced the results the CCP desired in a country marked by an aging population. In 2020, 12 million babies were born in China, a sharp decline from the 18 million births in 2016, the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) reported in May. The country of 1.41 billion people had an annual growth rate of 0.53 percent from 2010 to 2020, compared to a rate of 0.57 percent the previous 10 years, according to the BBC.

Under the CCP’s population-control program the last four-plus decades, couples who violate the policy have faced the possibility not only of large fines, job loss and imprisonment but of coerced abortions or sterilizations. The child limit has produced widespread reports of even late-term abortions forced upon mothers by authorities in some localities. The coercive abortions are performed normally on female babies, because of the Chinese preference for sons. Sex-selection abortions and infanticide have resulted in dramatic differences in the rates of female and male births in the country.

It remains to be seen if the CCP’s three-child policy will apply to Uyghur Muslims and other minorities oppressed by the government in the western region of Xinjiang. The parents of three or more children in the region are regularly taken to detention camps, The Associated Press reported in 2020. The government forces intrauterine devices, sterilizations and abortions on hundreds of thousands of Muslim and other minority women, according to AP.

The CCP’s change to a three-child limit was accompanied by other policy changes, including the improvement in pre-birth and after-birth care services and the development of universal child care, according to Xinhua, the government-operated news agency.