“The three-child policy rule is that every couple is allowed to have three children. Therefore, it remains illegal for single women to give birth,” she said.
“If the CCP ‘eliminates’ all birth restrictions, will they finally let single women give birth? Or will the new rule be, ‘all couples can now have as many children as they want?’”
For more than three decades, Chinese authorities enforced a one-child policy with steep fines, sterilizations, and forced abortions, in an effort to curb what they perceived as excessive population growth.
The Catholic Church has consistently opposed such measures. In his 1967 encyclical Populorum progressio, Pope Paul VI spoke out against “drastic remedies to reduce the birth rate.”
“There is no doubt that public authorities can intervene in this matter, within the bounds of their competence,” he wrote. “They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures, so long as these are in conformity with the dictates of the moral law and the rightful freedom of married couples is preserved completely intact.”
“When the inalienable right of marriage and of procreation is taken away, so is human dignity.”
China replaced the one-child policy with a two-child policy following concerns that the country’s population was aging rapidly. The change inspired a brief baby boom, but the birth rate fell again, with couples citing the high costs of raising children.
“Right now the problem in China is not that they have too many people. It is that they have too few young people to support their rapidly aging population and, even under the two-child policy, they are not getting the baby boom that they need to help with that situation or to help with the fact that their labor force is now declining,” Littlejohn told CNA in 2018.
In response to this shift, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers has expanded its mission to also serve elderly widows in China in need of support.
More than 35 million women in China will be over the age of 84 years old by 2050, while the number of women in their 20s and 40s will drop significantly, according to the United Nations Population Division.
Pope Francis said in a speech last month that low birth rates reveal the need to recover the idea that every life is an “unrepeatable gift.”
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“Life is the first gift that each one of us received,” the pope said in his opening address at the General States of Birth event in Rome on May 14.
“We have received a gift and we are called to pass it on. And a child is the greatest gift for everyone and comes first,” he said.
“Let us help each other, dear friends, to rediscover the courage to give, the courage to choose life,” he said.