Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

NPR discovers the 'secret' that pro-lifers have been sharing for a generation

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 03, 2016

Congratulations to National Public Radio for discovering what Steven Mosher has been telling the world for the past 35 years: that China's brutal "one-child" population policy led to flagrant and widespread human-rights abuses, including millions of forced abortions, and produced a demographically imbalanced generation in which 30 million young Chinese bachelors can't find wives. 

Mosher (who now heads the Population Research Institute), was declared persona non grata in China-- and, incidentally, at Stanford University as well-- when he made the same observations in 1981. His book Broken Earth, published (appropriately enough) in 1984, told the whole story. 

But really, the logic of the one-child policy led inexorably to the abuses. Healthy, loving couples will naturally want more children, so if the government enforces the policy, forcible abortion will follow. In a country China's size the number of involuntary abortions will be horrific; Mosher estimates the figure at over 300 million.

As for the excess of bachelors, that phenomenon is only slightly less predictable. Traditional Chinese culture has bred a strong desire for son who can carry on the family name. A modern consumer society sees males as more economically productive. So couples are tempted to learn the sex of their unborn child and abort females. Again the cumulative numbers are horrific, and the social effects are dangerous. Large groups of men without women tend to be aggressive, uncivilized-- dangerous. Put that sort of destabilizing element into an emerging global superpower, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Now that NPR has reached the state of awareness that pro-life Americans had attained in the 1980s, let's see if we can escort our government-subsidized reporters forward a few more steps by pointing out that:

  • China has not abolished its draconian population policy. Couples are no longer limited to having only one child, it's true. They can now have two children. But not more. The government still claims the authority to determine how many children a family may have; and
  • if (as seems likely) the Beijing government determines that a more radical policy is required to address the problems caused by a rapidly aging population, it would be entirely consistent with the logic of the ruling Communist party to force couples to have more children. From violating human rights by forcing abortions, the regime could flip to the extreme and force pregnancies. As was observed by Steven Mosher, the man who exposed the atrocities 35 years ago, "A government bent on controlling the fertility of its people will do whatever is necessary to produce the number of children it thinks necessary." 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 13, 2016 10:34 AM ET USA

    Wunderbar NPR, your eyes are finally opening!!!

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Feb. 07, 2016 3:37 PM ET USA

    Whatever will China do with all those unattached males? They could build up their army...oh, wait.

  • Posted by: DanS - Feb. 05, 2016 6:36 AM ET USA

    Permit me to answer Alexanderh on Phil's behalf: willful ignorance must be emphasized as such so that those vulnerable to it do not repeat their errors or are less likely to, anyway. Shining a bright light on a murderous injustice strikes me as an act of charity not arrogance. BTW, I currently live in Europe where voluntarily limiting family size (better known as "societal suicide") has created a similar aging population imbalance known by all but acknowledged by none.

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 04, 2016 9:29 PM ET USA

    I made the alarm on my clock radio much more effective by tuning it to NPR. I can't stand their leftist agenda, so I always jump quickly out of bed to turn it off.

  • Posted by: alexanderh167577 - Feb. 03, 2016 3:57 PM ET USA

    Why can’t you just be happy that this info is now reaching a larger audience? Why is it that when something good happens you respond with sarcasm and scoffing? What exactly do you hope to accomplish?

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Feb. 03, 2016 11:26 AM ET USA

    And don't forget the looming Logan's Run specter of forced termination or denial of lifesaving care to deal with the millions of aging but nonproductive subjects.