Saturday, February 4, 2017

Family Planning in China and America


China:

In 1979, due to the country's isolationist policy that barred trade with other nations, the Chinese government foresaw the need to control population growth: with only 7% of the world's arable land, it would be unfeasible to feed everyone, should each couple bear as many children as they could or wanted. Thus, the One Child Policy was born (pun intended). Each married couple could legally produce only one child. Any other children born to that couple would bring severe fines and social penalties, from job loss and eviction from the community, to prison.

Because of this society's cultural preference for sons, untold numbers of female offspring were disposed of, some in horrific ways. Soon, the leaders faced another problem: who would all of these sons marry, if no girls were being kept alive?

Enter the Spring Blossom Project (1989): financial and social incentives for parents of girl children, which would allow for education and health care needs. The purpose was to encourage families to see daughters as equally valuable. Thanks in part to this project (and to a rule that forbids doctors disclosing fetus' sex during sonogram), the gender imbalance has  lessened: from 123 males / 100 females in the early '80s to 115 males / 100 females, the most current data.

Recent reports question that statistic. Especially in the countryside, people are having daughters and not registering them. Effectively, those daughters do not exist. The gross effect of this tactic is that they  remain out of sight: denied doctor's care and education, doomed to a life of illiteracy and poverty. Village leaders are complicit in this deception, going so far as to legitimize marriage certificates between registered males and unregistered females.


Married women are permitted to deliver in hospitals: marriage certificates must be provided upon admission. Their costs of having a baby and the infant's care are absorbed by the state.

Unmarried women can have their baby in a hospital, however, they must pay a hefty fine on top of their and their baby's medical care, and will endure social penalties, including ostracization and loss of work. They could be evicted from their home and, to avoid the shame heaped on the family for having an illegitimate child in their midst, a single mother could be shunned by her clan. It is possible that that child would not become registered, thereby losing any chance at education or any other social advantage 'wedlock-born' children might enjoy.

Legitimizing single mothers is being debated... or should we say 'contested'?, in the upper ranks of government but, so far, they remain illegitimate and, should single parenthood become legal, no doubt the stigma against single mothers and their children will remain for a long time.

Due to the shrinking workforce and the growing elderly population, in 2016, the One Child Policy was relaxed to afford each couple 2 children. Only 38% of married couples have had a second child under this new opening up, fearing the expense of raising 2 children. There are no social programs or financial incentives for anyone, no matter what their level of income.

A woman's fertility is closely controlled in several ways. After delivering a baby, women generally get a intra-uterine device (IUD) surgically implanted and are mandated to regular checks by the Family Planning Commission. Most women who have had their second baby undergo tubal ligation.

Abortion is legal and widely practiced, albeit with women being counseled that repeated abortions could result in their future inability to bear a child.

I've not found anywhere that men are forced to undergo any type of check, restriction or blocking on their reproductive capabilities after they've created a child or two. 

America:

Women can have as many children as they want, or none at all. Whereas in China, having a baby is seen as a family and social obligation, in America, some women opt to not have children. There are no mandatory 'fertility checks', and contraception is optional. In fact, new legislation is currently being drafted to bar the dispensing of contraceptive, and to prevent religion-affiliated organizations from providing insurance that covers contraceptives and family planning.

Some women rely on a 'morning after pill' after having sex with no contraceptive, although studies have shown that ingesting such emergency contraception does not necessarily prevent pregnancy, or lower the number of abortions.

The right to life versus the right to choose – bearing a child or aborting holds American society and politics in a bitter tug of war. Although officially, America is not governed by religious standards - “the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.” (Hugo Black, 1947, Everson v. Board of Education), in fact, religious belief drives the abortion issue in America.

In 1973, America's Supreme Court issued a judgement in the case of Roe v. Wade and its less well-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, essentially conceding a woman's right to opt for abortion. However, that governing body's obligation to balance individual women's rights with The State's need to protect the eventuality of life leaves grey area that gives those who would decry women's decision to abort a potentially viable fetus a legal platform to altogether deny anyone the right to choose.

Several states have enacted severe penalties against doctors who perform abortions. Others have drafted laws that essentially negate the possibility of abortion, all without infringing on the law itself. Texas enacted a law that any clinic performing abortions must have a doctor who has staff privileges at a local hospital. This law substantively forced closure of all but 2 women's health clinics which also perform abortion throughout the state. Ohio's Heartbeat Bill, which prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected 'by external methods', was signed into law in December 2016. Several other states have, in the past, sought to enact similar legislation. More are looking to try again.

Through these actions, the large majority of Family Planning clinics across America have been forced to close. There is no government Family Planning commission.

Once a woman, married or otherwise, has a child, she has several financial and social options to rely on, among them: SNAP – supplemental nutritional assistance program, AFDC – formerly called 'welfare', a monthly allowance to support a household in need; all the way to Head Start – an early education and all-around well-being program. These resources are generally meant for the poorer members of society, funded by tax dollars.

Analysis

While China's family planning program might seem distateful to some, it is straightforward, albeit biased, holding women exclusively accountable for the production of children. Perhaps the worst aspect of it is what unwed mothers suffer. Hopefully that will soon be alleviated. Ideally, men would also have to undergo restrictions on producing children, namely: once they produce their allotted quota, they too will undergo sterilization. 

America needs to make up its mind: will fecundity be driven by religion – contrary to its Constitution? If so, which religion?

If sexual congress is freely accepted as a fact of life (and it obviously is, judging by the displays in movies and television), shouldn't there exist the legal option to terminate unwanted pregnancies, with no shame and no stigma?

How is it that, in America, one can legally change their appearance through cosmetic surgery, their gender through assignment surgery; but women are being railroaded into parenthood, when a surgical means of avoiding it are available but denied, because some believe that having a child is a 'gift from God'? Aren't the first 2 scenarios also 'tampering with God's will'?

There seems to be a duality of American mores: having sex is good; bearing children is good. One is contrary to religious morals; the other is allied with religious morals. Nowhere, in religion, in courts of law, or in higher government does anyone seem to address the eventuality that all of these children will cause a population explosion, when the current global population is already taxing our Earth's resources – the idea that drives China's family planning policies.

Wouldn't it make more sense for America to change focus? To legislate based on the future of humanity, and not some arbitrary standard espoused by a few with shared belief? 
 

 


China:

In 1979, due to the country's isolationist policy that barred trade with other nations, the Chinese government foresaw the need to control population growth: with only 7% of the world's arable land, it would be unfeasible to feed everyone, should each couple bear as many children as they could or wanted. Thus, the One Child Policy was born (pun intended). Each married couple could legally produce only one child. Any other children born to that couple would bring severe fines and social penalties, from job loss and eviction from the community, to prison.

Because of this society's cultural preference for sons, untold numbers of female offspring were disposed of, some in horrific ways. Soon, the leaders faced another problem: who would all of these sons marry, if no girls were being kept alive?

Enter the Spring Blossom Project (1989): financial and social incentives for parents of girl children, which would allow for education and health care needs. The purpose was to encourage families to see daughters as equally valuable. Thanks in part to this project (and to a rule that forbids doctors disclosing fetus' sex during sonogram), the gender imbalance has  lessened: from 123 males / 100 females in the early '80s to 115 males / 100 females, the most current data.

Recent reports question that statistic. Especially in the countryside, people are having daughters and not registering them. Effectively, those daughters do not exist. The gross effect of this tactic is that they  remain out of sight: denied doctor's care and education, doomed to a life of illiteracy and poverty. Village leaders are complicit in this deception, going so far as to legitimize marriage certificates between registered males and unregistered females.


Married women are permitted to deliver in hospitals: marriage certificates must be provided upon admission. Their costs of having a baby and the infant's care are absorbed by the state.

Unmarried women can have their baby in a hospital, however, they must pay a hefty fine on top of their and their baby's medical care, and will endure social penalties, including ostracization and loss of work. They could be evicted from their home and, to avoid the shame heaped on the family for having an illegitimate child in their midst, a single mother could be shunned by her clan. It is possible that that child would not become registered, thereby losing any chance at education or any other social advantage 'wedlock-born' children might enjoy.

Legitimizing single mothers is being debated... or should we say 'contested'?, in the upper ranks of government but, so far, they remain illegitimate and, should single parenthood become legal, no doubt the stigma against single mothers and their children will remain for a long time.

Due to the shrinking workforce and the growing elderly population, in 2016, the One Child Policy was relaxed to afford each couple 2 children. Only 38% of married couples have had a second child under this new opening up, fearing the expense of raising 2 children. There are no social programs or financial incentives for anyone, no matter what their level of income.

A woman's fertility is closely controlled in several ways. After delivering a baby, women generally get a intra-uterine device (IUD) surgically implanted and are mandated to regular checks by the Family Planning Commission. Most women who have had their second baby undergo tubal ligation.

Abortion is legal and widely practiced, albeit with women being counseled that repeated abortions could result in their future inability to bear a child.

I've not found anywhere that men are forced to undergo any type of check, restriction or blocking on their reproductive capabilities after they've created a child or two. 

America:

Women can have as many children as they want, or none at all. Whereas in China, having a baby is seen as a family and social obligation, in America, some women opt to not have children. There are no mandatory 'fertility checks', and contraception is optional. In fact, new legislation is currently being drafted to bar the dispensing of contraceptive, and to prevent religion-affiliated organizations from providing insurance that covers contraceptives and family planning.

Some women rely on a 'morning after pill' after having sex with no contraceptive, although studies have shown that ingesting such emergency contraception does not necessarily prevent pregnancy, or lower the number of abortions.

The right to life versus the right to choose – bearing a child or aborting holds American society and politics in a bitter tug of war. Although officially, America is not governed by religious standards - “the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.” (Hugo Black, 1947, Everson v. Board of Education), in fact, religious belief drives the abortion issue in America.

In 1973, America's Supreme Court issued a judgement in the case of Roe v. Wade and its less well-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, essentially conceding a woman's right to opt for abortion. However, that governing body's obligation to balance individual women's rights with The State's need to protect the eventuality of life leaves grey area that gives those who would decry women's decision to abort a potentially viable fetus a legal platform to altogether deny anyone the right to choose.

Several states have enacted severe penalties against doctors who perform abortions. Others have drafted laws that essentially negate the possibility of abortion, all without infringing on the law itself. Texas enacted a law that any clinic performing abortions must have a doctor who has staff privileges at a local hospital. This law substantively forced closure of all but 2 women's health clinics which also perform abortion throughout the state. Ohio's Heartbeat Bill, which prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected 'by external methods', was signed into law in December 2016. Several other states have, in the past, sought to enact similar legislation. More are looking to try again.

Through these actions, the large majority of Family Planning clinics across America have been forced to close. There is no government Family Planning commission.

Once a woman, married or otherwise, has a child, she has several financial and social options to rely on, among them: SNAP – supplemental nutritional assistance program, AFDC – formerly called 'welfare', a monthly allowance to support a household in need; all the way to Head Start – an early education and all-around well-being program. These resources are generally meant for the poorer members of society, funded by tax dollars.

Analysis

While China's family planning program might seem distateful to some, it is straightforward, albeit biased, holding women exclusively accountable for the production of children. Perhaps the worst aspect of it is what unwed mothers suffer. Hopefully that will soon be alleviated. Ideally, men would also have to undergo restrictions on producing children, namely: once they produce their allotted quota, they too will undergo sterilization. 

America needs to make up its mind: will fecundity be driven by religion – contrary to its Constitution? If so, which religion?

If sexual congress is freely accepted as a fact of life (and it obviously is, judging by the displays in movies and television), shouldn't there exist the legal option to terminate unwanted pregnancies, with no shame and no stigma?

How is it that, in America, one can legally change their appearance through cosmetic surgery, their gender through assignment surgery; but women are being railroaded into parenthood, when a surgical means of avoiding it are available but denied, because some believe that having a child is a 'gift from God'? Aren't the first 2 scenarios also 'tampering with God's will'?

There seems to be a duality of American mores: having sex is good; bearing children is good. One is contrary to religious morals; the other is allied with religious morals. Nowhere, in religion, in courts of law, or in higher government does anyone seem to address the eventuality that all of these children will cause a population explosion, when the current global population is already taxing our Earth's resources – the idea that drives China's family planning policies.

Wouldn't it make more sense for America to change focus? To legislate based on the future of humanity, and not some arbitrary standard espoused by a few with shared belief? 
 

 



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