God Bless America. Sometimes it’s easy to find things to complain about with our own government. But how about this? How far is too far for a country to go in controlling its citizens? This question, of course, relates to the one child per family policy that China has promulgated. The idea behind it is to control population growth by restricting couples in urban areas to no more than one child. Although the statute is a fairly cut and dry, there are some exceptions, in limited circumstances. These exempted circumstances include couples who have twins, those living in rural areas, couples who both have no siblings of their own, and ethnic minorities.
So, how do China authorities enforce such a law? One way is through forced abortions, forced sterilization, as well as severe financial penalties (usually amounting to about 1/3 of the violator’s annual salary). In other cases, the sanction included the Chinese government’s refusal to officially register the child’s birth, which affects the services the child can be eligible to receive. I understand the reason behind the law. Just look at Nadya Suleman (a.k.a. Octomom) and you can see the value in such a policy, as multiple children can potentially pose a burden on the social service system. But is a forced abortion or forced sterilization going too far?
Global women’s rights organization have been fighting this for years, particularly after learning about forced, late-term abortions, sometimes as late as 8 or 9 months, and in some cases the birth was terminated while the mother was in labor. Isn’t that cruel and inhumane? Of course it is. I know the standard here is not the same everywhere, but right is right and wrong is wrong no matter where you are.
Sometimes, governments impose themselves too deeply and too intrusively and in some cases, unfairly, into the lives of its citizens. Even here in the United States some laws can be a little too much. I was reading some papers for work recently and I came across some legislation (The Adam Walsh Act of 2006). Among other things, this act requires all prospective adoptive and foster parents to pass a screening of sex offender registries before being approved to receive children. My first thought was how unfair that must be when two people who could be sex offenders can make their own babies without any inquiries, but those who wish to adopt must face extra scrutiny. Laws are often going to be unfair, which is why we have a Supreme Court.
Citizen rights are obviously very different in China than they are in the United States. But, one thing is clear: no matter what country you are in – even if it’s one that proclaims democracy – there are always instances of the government abusing its citizens. Even for a country like China with such a disjointed form of government, this type of treatment of its citizens is definitely too much, in my opinion.