China’s Disastrous One Child Policy Wants You to Think it Changed – It Didn’t

Population Control Presages Catastrophic Consequences 

“[C]areful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.”

          — St. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae

St. Thomas Aquinas famously said that “a small mistake in the beginning becomes a big mistake in the end.”

It’s easy to see what he meant. Build a house upon a foundation that has a crack in it and that crack will eventually threaten the whole structure. Successfully complete a complex and lengthy mathematical proof, but mistakenly calculate that 2+2=5 in the very first step, and the whole answer will be wildly inaccurate. Error leads to error.

But what happens when you don’t just make a small mistake in the beginning, but a large one? It doesn’t just become a big mistake in the end; it becomes a catastrophic one. This, I fear, is what China and India, and perhaps the whole world, are about to learn what happens when entire governments and countries embrace the errors of the Culture of Death.

Pro-life activists have been warning for decades now that coercive population control programs in countries like China, India, and Vietnam don’t just lead to horrific human rights abuses in the present, but a host of unintended consequences in the long term. Evil leads to evil.

Our founder, Fr. Paul Marx, warned of Chinese female gendercide in an interview in 2000 that “baby girls are slaughtered in enormous numbers…Traditionally, China had a serious imbalance in the sexes because of female infanticide. This problem is back with a vengeance.” He concluded: “We must expose and defeat the myth of overpopulation. We must end the war on people and defund government-funded population control programs.”

Among liberals, however, rare has been the voice speaking out against the consequences of coercive population control. That may be starting to shift, with some pro-abortion and liberal commentators slowly (very slowly) waking up to just how right pro-life activists have been. Witness the recent in-depth exposé in the Washington Post, a notoriously liberal newspaper. Entitled “Too Many Men,” the article takes a deep dive into the myriad effects of female gendercide both by China and the Indian governments’ policies to limit human reproduction, with its cultural preference for male children.

These two factors have led to an historically unprecedented situation: In China and India there are an estimated 70 million more men than women. Or, as it is often put, there are tens of millions of “missing” girls in the two countries. This, of course, is a misleading euphemism. These girls aren’t “missing.” We know precisely what happened to them. They were systematically targeted and eliminated via modern ultrasound technology and abortion.

In one case, a Vietnamese woman admitted that she had aborted eighteen girl babies in order to give birth to one son. Her case may be an extreme outlier, but sex-selective abortion is routine in India and China. Feeble attempts in India to ban the practice have not done much to stop it.

Everyone Hurts – But Aborted Females Suffer Most

But even though there is no historic precedent for a huge male-female gender imbalance, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to guess what will happen.

There are now tens of millions of men in these countries who will be permanently unable to find wives, who are left listless, directionless, and hopeless. The Post identifies four negative outcomes of this gender imbalance: 1) An epidemic of loneliness and depression among men; 2) Soaring housing prices and other economic consequences as men compete for a dwindling population of eligible women; 3) A growth in human trafficking and wife-buying, and 4) A growth in sexual harassment and other criminal behavior.

In an increasingly globalized world, these consequences don’t only affect the countries with the gender imbalance. The ripple effects are also felt by many neighboring countries, and in one way or another, the entire globe. Take the growing bride trafficking trade in China. While trafficking within China certainly happens, there simply aren’t enough Chinese women available to meet the demand. It thus becomes necessary for traffickers to look afield to neighboring countries for their supply of brides.

Chinese men have taken to utilizing a variety of services to purchase brides from countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, North Korea, and Russia. Naturally, only the poorest women in these countries are willing to sell their futures to an unknown man who has purchased the “right” to marry them. Impoverished and powerless, these women are ripe for exploitation. Furthermore, by siphoning women from neighboring countries, the Chinese bride trafficking trade leads to gender imbalances in those countries.

The Washington Post reports that websites like (China-Viet-Love) “offer a selection of Vietnamese women. Some services offer a money-back guarantee that the brides will be virgins, and a free replacement for any who run away within a year.” The Post recounts the story of one woman, purchased from Cambodia, who was locked up by her husband’s family, so she wouldn’t run away, forced to have sex four times a day, and beaten if she refused or failed to meet expectations.

More hidden perhaps than trafficking for brides, is the growing demand for prostitution and pornography. Both of these are linked to human trafficking and other human rights abuses. As usual, the victims are predominantly women.

Female Gendercide Will Worsen 

 Perhaps the most sobering finding in the Post’s article is that the consequences of the gender gap are only just beginning to hit. Even though the imbalance between baby boys and baby girls has begun to very gradually improve in recent years in India and China, the worst-hit generations will only reach marriageable age within the next decade or two.

But it’s even worse than that. As the Post reports: “In any given age group, a proportion of men will fail to find brides, but they will stay in the marriage market, competing with younger men to marry younger women. The disproportion keeps growing. By 2050, French demographer Christophe Guilmoto estimated, there could be between 150 to 190 men for every 100 women in China’s marriage market.”

That means more sex trafficking, more pornography, more loneliness, more disaffected men, and more crime.

Furthermore, the gender gap is only one of the consequences of China’s one-child policy. The Chinese government claims to have prevented the births of 400 million in the past four decades. That includes some 336 million abortions, and the effects of a couple hundred million sterilizations.

China’s economic ascendency over the past couple decades has been heavily based upon its growing population. However, after decades of drastic population control, China’s population is about to peak. And once it does, it is going to begin plummeting…fast. With a rapidly dwindling worker-aged population, and a growing population of elderly who need to be supported, China faces an economic and social tsunami.

Where is the Outrage?

I suppose I really shouldn’t be shocked, but I have always found it shocking how little Western “feminist” or “liberal” organizations and individuals have had to say about the one-child policy and sex-selective abortions. They profess a concern for women and human rights but turn a blind eye to one of the most sustained, vicious, and institutionalized human rights abuses in history

It’s true that men feel the pain of mandatory population control programs. But women are by far the worst victims of population control programs. They’re the babies that are being slaughtered in the womb en masse. They’re the ones being tracked down when they have an illegal pregnancy and forced to abort their unborn babies as late as nine months. They’re the victims of human trafficking, of the demand for prostitution, of being forced into marriages out of dire economic necessity, and of spousal abuse when they fail to deliver the desired-for boy.

But instead of Western outrage, we have the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) actively assisting China in enforcing their policies. And we have celebrities, wealthy “philanthropists” like Ted Turner and Sir David Attenborough, expressing admiration for China’s coercive policies.

In this 50th anniversary year of Humanae Vitae, it is worth remembering how accurately Blessed Paul VI predicted the consequences of the contraceptive mentality, including coercive population control. Anti-life and anti-family activists have long scolded the Church for being “anti-women” for rejecting contraception and the “right to choose” abortion. But they turn a blind eye to female gendercide. Instead, the Church has once again proved Herself to be the one, consistent advocate for women. Those, on the other hand, who were seduced by neo-Malthusian population alarmism, ignoring the reality they advocate, have been complicit in the mass slaughter of women.

Ending coercive population control and gender-selective abortion should be an issue on which right and left can unite. Hopefully the Washington Post’s recent article is a sign of hope in that direction.


As president of Human Life International, Fr. Boquet is a leading expert on the international pro-life and family movement, having journeyed to nearly 90 countries on pro-life missions over the last decade. Father Boquet works with pro-life and family leaders in 116 counties that partner with HLI to proclaim and advance the Gospel of Life. Read his full bio here.

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  1. Sister Mary Martha Fe,OSF on May 11, 2018 at 11:21 PM

    I have shown to the students the video about “The Dying Room” in China. It was really heartbreaking video as an effect to one child policy.

  2. Michael on May 1, 2018 at 12:57 AM

    I can’t help feeling a sense of Schadenfreude about China. That Communist despotism is arguably set to become the most powerful state on earth, though that destiny might be thwarted if its godless population collapses and its society disintegrates under the weight of its unmarriageable men. A prosperous China is a greater geopolitical threat to the human race than is a poorer one.

  3. Molly Jesse on April 30, 2018 at 5:12 PM

    Alfie, may he Rest In Peace, is a paradigm for all unwanted people. The British hospital officials reflect the arrogance of of those who can’t admit they have made a mistake. Alfie paid for this with his life because we will never know if if he could get better. His parents paid for it by being made helpless by a powerful few who wouldn’t admit they were wrong. The need for A small oligarchcy of British medicine men played Zeus and denied some loving parents and a world of watching and praying hopefuls the chance to see if their beloved Alfie might live. His parents had the most to lose. He was their beloved son. The people around the world who watched and prayed with them lost any trust they had in the British medical system to do what is right. Alfie’s parents and we have been left in a world of pain because a few powerful people wold not give Alfie the medical care he needed to help him live. They had to prove themselves all powerfull by condemning Alfie to death. What gall and pride. Now we ask the real God of all to help Alfie’s parents to heal, and we with them. We ask God to heal also the medical team who refused to give Alfie the chance to live.

    • Coelho Ralph on May 1, 2018 at 12:41 AM

      I wonder what would happen to Alvie’s parents if in old age they are admitted to the same or a sister Hosp. Will they be euthanized because they are useless and there is no cure for their age.

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