First introduced in 1979, China’s notorious one-child policy was meant to be a temporary means of curbing a soaring population and thus reducing demands for resources like water. Now, more than 35 years later, the Communist Party must confront the challenges of dealing with an aging population and balancing out a completely lopsided, male-dominated population. Thus, the ruling party decided it will be removing all remaining restrictions that limit couples to only one child.
The new policy came after a meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, which mapped out the country’s economic and social development through 2020. State media announced the decision, which will allow couples to have two children, on Thursday.
China’s one-child policy has been called the world’s worst law, having resulted in more murders than any other law in history, according to Susan Yoshihara, senior vice president for research at the Center for Family & Human Rights.
Beyond the staggering number of abortions the policy resulted in, it has also led to other severe human rights abuses, LifeNews.com notes.
Family planning officials frequently jail couples who refuse to comply, sentence them to house arrest or labor camps, revoke jobs or governmental support, use physical harassment or violence and often target other family members.
There are more than 13 million abortions a year, or 1,500 an hour, in China, according to government researchers. That’s thanks in large part to the one-child policy — which encourages abortions and results in forced abortions and sex-selection abortions.
While decision to remove the country’s one-child policy is a step in the right direction, it does not mean complete freedom over family planning.
"As long as the quotas and system of surveillance remains, women still do not enjoy reproductive rights," Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch told AFP.