I’ve long admired Canon Andrew White, aka the Vicar of Baghdad. He’s an Anglican priest who’s been on the ground in Baghdad working for reconciliation for quite a few years now. Read The Independent’s excellent story on him.
Here are my own versions of the criticisms.
One is that the language of “policy shift” obscures the vast cruelty and horror that the policy has involved. It is estimated that over 300 million abortions have taken place under the policy since it was instituted in 1980. For those who affirm, as I do, the humanity of the unborn child, this is over 300 million deaths of innocent, voiceless human beings. Even those who look upon the abortion issue in terms of “reproductive rights,” however, ought to share in the horror of this policy, for a large proportion of these abortions were forced upon women through brutal coercion and an even larger proportion through strong incentives, including the fear of such coercion. What could be further removed from reproductive freedom? Add to this the “sex selection” dimension of massive abortion, which has left tens of millions of men without a corresponding mate and has encouraged prostitution, sex trafficking and the “importing” of women from other countries. If China’s policy is abating, then, this is welcome news, but we should not refrain from remembering the cruelty, honoring the dead, and demanding some kind of acknowledgment if not accountability from this regime.
Second, it is not clear that the policy of coerced abortion and sharp control over reproductive decisions is really ending. The government says that it is now pursuing a two-child policy – one that is likely to remain brutal on a large scale.
Third, the government looks upon the policy decision as just that – one that it made for economic and demographic reasons. The government of China shows no inclination to acknowledge the massive human rights violation that the policy has involved.
Celebrations of this news must be muted.