One Child Policy an attack on the common good - Chinese bioethicist

Xavier Symons
20 Jun 2014
Reproduced with Permission

In a provocative new article in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics , Chinese bioethicist Jing-Bao Nie attacks the one child-policy for having "a hugely negative effect on the common good". Nie criticises the government's claim that the policy has benefited society through raising living standards and reducing overcrowding:

"The greatest irony of all is that, while originally designed to improve living standards and help relieve poverty and underdevelopment, the one-child policy has inflicted massive suffering and state-directed violence on Chinese people, especially women."

Nie has conducted extensive research into the impacts of the coercive policy. He was horrified by the results:

"[It has] grave negative impacts on women undergoing reproductive interventions, including the side effects of contraceptive use, mental and physical problems caused by the uninformed selection of contraceptive methods, conflict between a couple's wishes and the state's population goals, and the permanent distress entailed in the failure to produce a male child."

He discusses in particular the harrowing stories of two women forced to have abortions after failing to meet the criteria for a 'birth permit':

"Women have had to endure suffering on a massive scale."

Nie was initially a supporter of the one-child policy, but changed his views after a close study of these cases.

In late 2013 the Chinese government altered the policy so that parents who themselves were only children could have more than one child. Nie is sceptical about the actual impact of the change:

"It is far from clear when and how the promised modification will be implemented in practice. And the government does not plan to further relax current restrictions to include couples in which neither partner is a single child."