Lessons from China: Family Planning

In 1978, China implemented the “one child policy”, which is exactly as it sounds: each family was only allowed one child as a way to control the countries population. In 2015, said law was expanded to a “two child policy”, allowing families to have two children per household. This concept was something that immediately intrigued me as out sprung an abundance of questions into my head. How was this policy enforced? Who regulated said policies? What happened if a family had more than two children?

The answers to these questions, like most things in China, did not cease to amaze me. Throughout the country exists coined “family planning officials,” which may vary from villagers to city-dwellers, but are all mandated by the government. The child policy is upheld by these officers, with punishment for violating the policy at the discretion of the officials. Throughout the past forty years, there has been varying penalties for breaching the child policy ranging from open-ended fines to forced abortions to death.

How then are the women of China expected to stay within such limitations? Having been in the hospital for almost a month now, I have noted that birth control use is near nonexistent within the country. A colleague directed me to the most realistic answer: sterilization. After a mother meets the maximum allocation for children, they are often sterilized. It is still not clear whether this is a mandated or voluntary decision, but in 1983 over twenty million Chinese citizens were sterilized, causing me to lean towards the former.

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