The Once-Child Policy

The Once-Child Policy

The Once-Child Policy was introduced in China in 1978 and went into effect in 1979. Every married and unmarried couple was required to have only one child under the One-Child Policy. Under this policy, having a second child was prohibited, and women were forced to have abortions or have stillbirths. This paper will discuss the issues that arose as a result of the One-Child Policy, contraceptive policies, how it affected people, particularly women, and some issues related to the policy.

Implementation Complications

The implementation of the One-Child Policy was fraught with complications. The policies for contraceptives became strict and sterilization of couples with one child became a normal action. It led to more than 20 million citizens in China to be sterilized. The women were sterilized after having their first child. Those who did not abide by the policy and bore children out of the plan would be fined heavily, five to ten times their yearly disposable income. For poor couples, everything in the house was taken. The type of contraceptives highly used and encouraged was the barrier contraceptives and long-term acting birth control options. Sterilization was the ultimate way of birth control. Other women who got pregnant after their first child were forced to undergo abortions. The policies legalized forced abortion and restricting of families to have one child. Every married individual was coerced to abide by the policy. A part from forced abortions, the policy required authorities to confiscate children.

Effect on People

The policy had bad consequences for the Chinese population. Fewer children were born. An acute gender imbalance was experienced whereby the families preferred bearing sons or a male child. Due to choosing sons as the preferred children to bear, China has more men than women. In fact, there are over 30 million more men than women in China and a shortage of women. Because of sterilization and forced abortions required by the one-child policy, today China faces the challenges of workers shortages for supporting the aging population. The population composition in China was also reshaped by the one-child policy. The current population consists of too old people and many of them are men. Women are a rare breed in China.

Human Rights Abuses

According to Wong, Chinese families faced a lot of abuse due to the enforcement of the One-Child Policy. The strict family planning policy caused stillborn children in women. Government officials were ordered to carry out induced labor on pregnant women with their second child. Many parents and especially women have been left with the trauma of losing their children in a government that is supposed to protect them. The policy left women and family generations scared of having babies. Others have lost their jobs because of contravening the birth quota and becoming pregnant with their second or third child. According to Goodenough, it is currently the greatest human rights atrocity that has ever happened on Earth.

Refugees and Conclusion

The human rights abuses of the one-child policy that required forced abortions and sterilizations, killing of infants, as well as the sale of children also led to many Chinese people becoming refugees in the US. America accepts Chinese people who faced the coercive family planning policy and gives them asylum immediately.

With the intention of controlling the population, China is one country that enforced the most lucrative policy of birth control. Families, women, and the babies, born and unborn faced harsh times during the enforcement of the One-Child Policy. Women and couples with more than one child because depressed, and those who faced forced abortions were left traumatized. One can say that the Chinese government is one that did not care to protect the human rights of its people. In fact, the measures they took to ensure birth control were the most inhumane.


Fong, Mei, Sterilization, abortion, fines: How China brutally enforced its 1-child policy, 2016, 1. Available at:
NPR, How China’s One-Child Policy Led To Forced Abortions, 30 Million Bachelors, 2016. Available at:
Wong, Edward, One-Child Rule Is Gone in China, but Trauma Lingers for Many, The NewYork Times, 2015, Available at:
Goodenough, Patrick, Human Rights Activist: China’s One-Child Policy ‘Greatest Human Rights Atrocity on Earth’ CNS News, 2015. Available at:

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