China is considering getting rid of its birth restriction policy, which has been in place for decades, reports The Guardian.
At the present moment, Chinese families are restricted to two children, a policy that came into effect in 2016 to replace the one-child restriction that began in 1979. The current policy has been enforced through fines, and in some cases, forced abortions or sterilizations.
Officials are drafting a new civil code that has yet to make any reference to family planning, meaning that the government may be rethinking their restrictive policies. However, a report from The Procuratorate Daily, a newspaper affiliated with the prosecutor’s office, did not make any reference to a new limit, if there will still be one. The draft civil code is being drawn up by the National People’s Congress and is set to be finished by 2020.
The Communist party enacted the one-child policy in 1979 in an attempt to slow down population growth. It was increased to two children in 2016 in response to an aging population and economical concerns. However, when the one-child policy was relaxed, it didn’t lead to an immediate increase in birth rates throughout the country, which has continued to be problematic for China’s economy.
The restrictions on family size have reduced the labor force and created strain on the government to support the increasingly aging population. The controversial policy has also skewed male to female ratios in the country as the desire for a male child has led to increased abortions of female fetuses and infanticide.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher Maya Wang spoke to CNN about the situation in China.
“Relaxing the One Child policy actually didn’t lead to an immediate jump in births, which the government was kind of predicting and counting on. So now the Chinese government has come around to the opinion as well they need to further relax their control and abolish the birth controls altogether.”
The change to the country’s strict family-planning laws doesn’t come as a huge shock to experts. Therese Hesketh, professor at the University College London’s Institute for Global Health, also relayed her thoughts on the matter to CNN.
“The government will lift the policy, to what degree they then go further with pre-natal policy is another issue, but I think they’ll lift the policy in the foreseeable future.”
The news has also caused a huge stir on social media. In response to another proposed change of allowing a one-month cooling off period before a divorce can be made official, a social media user wrote, “So they want us to have more babies and less divorces?”
Another user seemed to support the proposed changes.
“The created generation, us only children, let’s gather together and prepare to work in our twilight years. Having children is good, eases the government’s healthcare cost for the elderly.”
Leta Hong Fincher, author of Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China, commented that the changes proposed by the government to encourage people to have more children have not been successful and that she is unsure of how the government can further incentivize people to do so, wrote The Guardian.
“Whatever policy they implement,” Fincher said, “they will continue to control women’s reproductive rights.”