For more than three decades, China has enforced draconian restrictions on family size. Now, after a sudden shift announced in late October, China will enforce slightly less draconian restrictions. The country’s notorious one-child policy has become a two-child policy.
It’s a modest retreat from the oppressive status quo, stopping far short of the full dismantling that opposition groups rightly demand. Even so, there’s an understandable urge to celebrate. All Girls Allowed founder Chai Ling rejoiced that “the Lord has done a great and mighty thing,” likening the new reform to God’s miraculous parting of the Red Sea.
Indeed, if any one principle sustains pro-life morale amid serial disappointments, it’s that incremental progress beats no progress. Relaxing China’s one-child policy means fewer forced abortions and sterilizations. Fewer little girls targeted in the womb or left to die as infants so that couples can preserve the possibility of male offspring. Fewer invasive state fertility checks, and fewer moments dreading inadvertent pregnancy. Praise God for every flicker of mercy in this dark world.
But let’s keep the champagne corked for now. As any number of cool-headed observers have remarked, China’s loosened stranglehold on family formation has nothing to do with remorse over state-sanctioned cruelty. Economic self-interest is the name of the game. Whatever its moral blindness, the Communist leadership sees plainly that demographic collapse is on the horizon unless a graying population receives an infusion of youth.
Moreover, the machinery of surveillance and punishment remains securely in place, triggered now by the third pregnancy instead of the second. ...1