Cautious welcome for China's abortion reduction policy

(Photo: Unsplash/Hanny Naibaho)

China is introducing limits on abortion as it grapples with the disastrous fallout of its decades-long one-child policy.

The Chinese government announced this week that the number of "non-medical" abortions is to be reduced over the next decade.

It has not defined what it means by "non-medical". Nor has it provided any details as to how the reduction will be achieved.

Generations of Chinese lived within the restraints of the one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979 to halt a rising birth rate at the time.

It was replaced in 2015 with a two-child policy which was this year raised to allow three children per family.

The relaxation of the rules has been accompanied by cash incentives to have children.

But the policy changes over the last six years have failed to halt the decline. In 2016, there were 18 million recorded births, falling to 12 million in 2020.

The new strategy forms part of the Chinese government's ongoing efforts to reverse this decline.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has given the announcement a cautious welcome but said it wants to see a more pro-life China emerge.

"While the reduction of abortion is to be welcomed, of course, one has to question the Chinese State Council's underlying motives – more concerned, it seems, with population growth than it is with the inherent right to life of unborn children," a spokesperson said.

"As SPUC has highlighted before, a state should never have the right to tell parents how many children they may have.

"Unfortunately, China is now reeling from the effects of its ill-judged and immoral one-child policy, which resulted in countless forced abortions.

"Hopefully, China's change of mind will also lead to an even more dramatic change of heart, acknowledging the evil of abortion – a recognition that may, in turn, lead to a pro-life China."