From The Financial Times:
Chinese doctors have performed more than 330m abortions since the government implemented a controversial family planning policy 40 years ago, according to official data from the health ministry.
China’s one-child policy has been the subject of a heated debate about its economic consequences as the population ages. Forced abortions and sterilisations have also been criticised by human rights campaigners such as Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing last year.
China first introduced measures to limit the size of the population in 1971, encouraging couples to have fewer children. The one-child rule, with exceptions for ethnic minorities and some rural families, was implemented at the end of the decade.
Since 1971, doctors have performed 336m abortions and 196m sterilisations, the data reveal. They have also inserted 403m intrauterine devices, a normal birth control procedure in the west but one that local officials often force on women in China.
The numbers do not directly equate to “missing” births because some couples who violate the one-child rule have also had abortions or been sterilised, while intrauterine devices can be removed.
Read the entire piece. And those are just the “official” numbers; we’ll never know the total numbers. The piece concludes by quoting Yang Yuxue, deputy head of the family planning unit, as saying, “The idea of easing the ageing problem by increasing the fertility rate is like drinking poison to quench thirst.” One wonders, in all seriousness, when we’ll start hearing of China implementing euthanasia policies for those who are older or infirm. For now, euthanasia is illegal in China, although there is a grass roots push for allowing it. Euthanasia is also illegal in the U.S. although three states allow “assisted suicide”, including Oregon, where I’ve lived since 1991, which was the first state to drink the “Death with Dignity” Kool-Aid. (And we are all familiar with how Europe is leading the way, so to speak, on the euthasania front.)
Stepping back, the question emerges: “What, exactly, distinguishes the culture of death in the West from the culture of death in China?” In China, the government enforces a one child policy; in the U.S., as Jonathan Last argues in his book, What To Expect When No One is Expecting, people willingly embrace a personal policy of one (or none) offspring. Which is worse: being choked to death by someone else or willfully killing yourself? In terms of familial, cultural, and social health, is what is happening in many countries, regardless of their different governmental systems.