A nurse takes care of newborns at No. 1 People's Hospital in Xiangyang, Hubei Province. The world's population is expected to reach 7 billion on October 31, 2011, four years later than once predicted largely thanks to China's family planning policy, according to the country's top population experts. Photo: Xinhua
A mother in Ankang, Shaanxi Province who was seven months pregnant was reportedly forced to undergo an abortion at the instruction of local family planning officials. The matter is being widely circulated online and led to heated discussions. According to the relevant policy, China clearly prohibits women who are over six months pregnant from undergoing abortions. If the Ankang case is true, the local officials obviously violated the relevant policy and should be punished.
China's family planning policy is aimed at promoting the country's development, and implementing this policy needs flexibility. There have been extreme local cases in the past, which have increased the complexity of promoting the one-child policy.
With the development of society, expectations of the family planning policy as well as Chinese people's awareness of human rights are changing. Local governments should have a broader horizon and not cross various bottom lines when carrying out their work. China has made achievements in protecting human rights; many humanitarian ideas have been introduced into China through globalization and the Internet. Much pressure has been put on grass-roots governments and forced improvements in social governance.
Local governments should turn this pressure into a driving force and realize improvements in their working style. Take the Ankang case as an example. What the officials have done goes against policy, no matter what their reasons are, and has stirred public opinion and damaged the image of the family planning policy.
Some hold that the family planning policy can only be implemented through tough measures. This kind of thinking is unacceptable today. Society has undergone tremendous changes in the last three decades. The desire for more children is decreasing. Cases of late-term pregnancy cannot be terminated through force. This is a requirement of the social moral standards of today.
Though we condemn this forced abortion case, we shouldn't deny the positive effect of the family planning policy. It is a special policy formed at a special time. Despite the gradual emergence of negative consequences, academic thinking still agrees its pros outweigh its cons. The idea of abandoning the family planning policy hasn't received much support among scholars.
Many favor adjusting this policy, but there are many disagreements over how and to what extent the adjustment should be made.
It is irrational to totally reject the family planning policy. Some people cite the example of Japan's population density to prove China can dump this policy. But the total population in regions such as Japan and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is limited. And they have relied on global resources to support their economic surge and development. But China's 1.3 billion population is competing for global resources. The world cannot afford a larger China.
First things first, forced termination of late-term pregnancies must be condemned and banned. But it shouldn't be a reason for refuting the whole policy, which has freed China from the burden of an extra 400 million people.