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Mandatory childbearing

Facing the consequences of child limits, will China turn to forced births to survive?

Children and adults walk across a bridge in Beijing. Associated Press/Photo by Mark Schiefelbein (file)

Mandatory childbearing

Quiet speculation that China will soon end its planned birth policy is getting louder with the recent release of a provincial report pushing for the end of birth limits.

Officials from Shaanxi province in northwest China published an unprecedented report in late June calling on the government to do away with its two-child policy “when the time is right.” Experts believe that could be as early as the end of this year. In addition to abolishing limitations, the Shaanxi report suggested implementing incentives such as financial benefits and improved conditions to “increase desire to procreate.”

The suggestion is an about-face in policy. For nearly 40 years, from 1979 to 2015, the Chinese government enforced a one-child policy for all couples. The government once boasted the program prevented the births of about 400 million people. In truth, it was a ruthless policy of crushing fines, compulsory sterilizations, and the forced abortion and infanticide of millions of babies, mostly little girls. Today, China’s population is aging faster than its workforce can support and includes a generation with around 30 million “excess” men. Economic growth is slowing, and the State Council last year projected that about a quarter of China’s population would be age 60 or older by 2030, a 13 percent jump since 2010. Just 17 percent of the population in 2030 will be age 14 or younger.

In an effort to undo its demographic disaster, the government in 2016 updated its planned birth policy to allow for two children per couple. But the new policy hasn’t led to the baby boom officials hoped. After a modest jump in 2016, the birth rate fell in 2017, according to a Chinese Bureau of Statistics report.

The Shaanxi report is a sign of change, according to Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream Is the New Threat to World Order.

“Ambitious provincial leaders often try and anticipate changes in national policy by getting ‘one step ahead’ of Beijing,” Mosher said. “This report, along with other signs, shows that the Chinese state is moving decisively in the direction of urging higher birth rates.”

But Mosher predicts such “urging” could soon involve more than just giving couples the freedom to have as many children as they want.

“Reversing China’s death spiral and stabilizing the population will require the relatively few women available, or at least many of them, to give birth to three or more children,” Mosher said during a talk at this summer’s National Right to Life convention. “What this suggests is that the ‘reproductive freedom’ that the Party may soon offer women may prove to be only a temporary stop on the way to something much darker. Something perhaps more closely resembling reproductive servitude than reproductive freedom.”

Anyone who doubts the government’s willingness to coercively order mandatory childbearing, Mosher said, need only look to the past 40 years of mandatory abortions and sterilizations as evidence.

A moving truck that served as a bedroom on a compound in Amalia, New Mexico

A moving truck that served as a bedroom on a compound in Amalia, New Mexico Associated Press/Photo by Morgan Lee

Body identified as missing Georgia boy

As expected, officials late last week confirmed the remains of a child found buried on a remote New Mexico compound in early August were those of a missing Georgia boy. For the last two weeks, family members of 4-year-old Abdul-ghani Wahhaj have told the media the body was his, and medical examiners confirmed the identity last Thursday.

Authorities found the body Aug. 6, days after raiding the desert compound, arresting five adults—including the boy’s father—and taking 11 hungry children into state custody. The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said officials believe the boy died in February. They are still investigating the cause and manner of his death.

Abdul-ghani’s mother, Hakima Ramzi, reported her son missing last December. The boy suffered from seizures and could not walk. Ramzi said her husband, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, had taken their son from their home in the Atlanta area and not returned. Wahhaj reportedly told her he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child.

Von Chelet Leveille, a brother of one of the women on the compound, told reporters this week he learned of Abdul-ghani’s death last winter in text conversations with his sister, Jany Leveille. He said his sister told him the boy died during an Islamic healing ritual and his body showed few signs of decomposition for months, leading the group to believe he would be resurrected as Jesus.

“It was crazy to me,” he said. “They kept saying to me, ‘You’re not here, you’re not seeing what we’re seeing.’”

Following public outcry, the New Mexico attorney general’s office this week told the Albuquerque Journal it was working to challenge a decision by a state district court judge to release three of the adult suspects pending trial. Prosecutors claimed they posed a risk to public safety due to reports they trained children to use firearms. They had not yet been released as of Thursday, in part due to a lack of safe housing arrangements. —K.C.

Empty persuasion

The nation’s most influential LGBT activist organization is courting evangelicals.

Earlier this summer, the Human Rights Campaign released a new booklet: “Coming Home to Evangelicalism and to Self.” The release is the sixth booklet in a series on LGBT issues and faith and is designed to “help LGBTQ people live fully in their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and to live fully in their religious, spiritual, and cultural traditions.”

The HRC’s newest booklet is also designed to make readers feel like the coolest and best parts of the evangelical church are coming around to approving of homosexuality and transgenderism, and anyone resisting is doing so because of a “power dynamic,” not Biblical convictions. In a section addressing passages in the Bible that condemn same-sex behavior, the booklet challenges evangelicals to instead focus on the “all-important, big-picture values that run throughout the Bible.”

But the pamphlet is an attempt to “poach evangelicals,” wrote Andrew T. Walker, the director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He said the manual uses the voices of individuals who claim evangelicalism but dismiss its core tenants.

“This represents a full-court press by progressive organizations to force evangelicals to abandon their ways,” Walker wrote. “This is not a resource aimed at widening evangelicalism. It is a resource intended to have evangelicals cease being evangelical.” —K.C.

Just breathe

Doulas have long assisted mothers-to-be through the birth process, but there is now a growing market for doulas for brides-to-be. It turns out the $300-billion-a-year wedding industry needs a new player: someone who’s entire job is to help a bride remain calm and centered during the planning process and wedding day. Didn’t that used to be the maid of honor’s job? It would appear she’s now too busy planning the eight-day bachelorette trip to Bali. —K.C.

Give me a bark

Minnesota marketing company Nina Hale announced a new employee benefit last month: “fur-ternity leave.” Employees are allowed to work from home for a week after the purchase or adoption of a new pet, The New York Times reported. The benefit is intended to allow for a time of bonding and adjustment between the animal and its new master. It is hard to know if this new trend reveals the depths of the modern obsession with pets as pseudo-children or the heights trendy companies are willing to reach to attract and hold talent. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

Thank you for your careful research and interesting presentations. —Clarke

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