Could America Have a One Child Policy?
On October 31, 2015, Professor Sarah Conly gave her commentary on China’s recent change to a “two-child” policy for the Boston Globe entitled “Here’s why China’s one-child policy was a good thing”. Dr. Conly’s logical analysis clearly laid out the value of population control for the goal of conserving resources now for the purpose of avoiding resource shortage in the future. Dr. Conly decried China’s use of force to require abortions and sterilization as a means to enforce its population controls, but did lay out economic alternatives to enforce a one-child policy should America choose to adopt one.
Children, a Burden
Dr. Conly also addressed the moral arguments against population control, specifically religious convictions and gender imbalance. In terms of religious convictions, her conclusion was that just because religious people feel called to have multiple children, it does not mean it is beneficial for society as a whole. In regards to gender imbalance, Dr. Conly concludes that society should be less sexist, and learn to value women more rather than have more children. If this were the case, then a one-child policy could work without threat of inhumane policy enforcement.
The most telling portion of Dr. Conly’s piece came in the sixth paragraph when she stated:
“Given the damage we are causing, and the suffering we foresee for all those who live after us, it is clear that having more than one child is just something that none of us –Chinese or American—has a moral right to do. We have no right to cause great harm to others when we can avoid this without great loss to ourselves.”
As I mentioned before, Dr. Conly’s commentary in this piece was logical and clearly laid out. The message that she is seeking to convey echoes off the page:
Children are a burden. A burden that must be must be eliminated.
What is scary about this piece is the growing number of voices within the academic elite that feel the same way as Dr. Conly. A similar piece written by Thomas Bartlett appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education. While these are just two voices, they most assuredly are beating the drum of many that believe that we as an American society need to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the number of feet in individual American homes.
The 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize at will abortion set our country on a dangerous trajectory that has led us to where we are now. Our culture is one that hates children. The number of abortions in America since 1973 is over 58 million. Let that number sink in. 58 million+ lives ended each time reinforcing the message that children are disposable. Now, the socio-cultural climate is such that Dr. Conly and others that agree with her can unabashedly suggest that America institute a policy that is unconscionable.
The atrocities of China’s one-child policy have been known for decades. The impact of the one-child policy on the economic and social welfare of China has been negative to say the least. China may have been successful in limiting the number of people using economic and physical resources, but at what cost? Millions of woman have been forced to abort children, or be sterilized. Millions of Chinese baby girls have been abandoned, and even killed. Adults without siblings are left to take care of two aging generations: their parents and grandparents. The financial stress of caring for parents and grandparents and the emotional void of not having a sibling have left an indelible mark on millions of Chinese Millennials.
I struggle to see how this is moral or good for society. I am not saying there are not serious concerns in regards to the increasing number of humans on the planet and the limited number of resources available to sustain us all. Living sustainably should be a goal of all, but not at the cost of children.
Be Fruitful, But Steward
I am not advocating every family should decide to have ten children out of spite or fear. I am advocating that prayerful consideration be given when it comes to having children. If you are in a loving and committed marriage and have the ability to have children, then do so and commit to raise children that respect and value being good stewards of the resources God provides. For those that are in a loving and committed marriage but cannot have children, I pray you consider other ways to bring children into your home and commit to doing the same.
The first commandment God gave to Adam and Eve in Genesis was to be fruitful and multiply. God created man and woman with the ability and desire to reproduce. Having children is necessary for human flourishing. Likewise, God also commanded Adam and Eve to be stewards over the earth. It is the responsibility of the human race to care for the planet, and not abuse it. Having children and caring for the planet are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Dr. Sarah Conly is right in her concern for the welfare of our planet, but I emphatically disagree with her conclusion. To say that no one has the “moral right” to have more than one child is dangerous rhetoric. To believe the answer to climate control is to limit the amount of children you have through the establishment of an abhorred practice is heartbreaking.
In reading Dr. Conly’s article, I reflected on a different story in which children were seen as a burden. One child specifically was so feared that the deaths of many other children was ordered in the hopes of eradicating him. This plan ultimately did not work and that child grew into a man whose impact changed the course of eternity. This man, Jesus Christ, ultimately did die, but he did so willingly. He gave his life, so that all could have access to eternal life.The answer to climate change will not come from a one-child policy. The answer to the brokenness of our planet will come in the person of Jesus Christ. He will one day return and restore order to this earth and establish a Kingdom that will be sustained forever!
This is the hope we have in Christ, Dr. Conly. I suggest you look to him, and not an evil one-child policy.