Thursday, May 7, 2009

Year After China Quake, New Births, Old Wounds

Back in October, I posted a report about how family planning officials were amending the one child policy to allow parents who lost a child in the Sichuan earthquake to have another child.

One expert was dubious that the change would actually result in new births:
[Steven]Mosher, [China expert (BTW, you can read my take on Mosher's "expertise" here)] who has followed the one-child policy since its inception and described it in his most recent book “Population Control”, went on to comment that "The natural human reaction to losing a child is to have a make-up child as quickly as possible. But this will not be possible for most of the couples who have lost children to the quake, regardless of what the government policy is. Most women of childbearing age have been sterilized, or their spouses have been sterilized. Unless the government begins offering free tubal ligation and vasectomy reversals to these poor people, there will be no more children."

Well, it seems that family planning authorities are doing those reversals. The New York Times reports:
One year after the earthquake in Sichuan Province killed about 70,000 people and left 18,000 missing, mothers across the region are pregnant or giving birth again, aided by government medical teams dispensing fertility advice and reversing sterilizations.

Despite this report of new births, the article paints an overall depressing situation, with the government ignoring calls for investigations of why so many schools collapsed and hoping that new children will quiet those calls. And the projected future of these "replacement" children seems bleak:

Just 45 days old and swaddled in pink, Sang Ruifeng already has a purpose in life: to bring to justice those responsible for the death of his 11-year-old brother.

Ruifeng will have to ensure, his father said, that the Chinese government gives a full accounting for why thousands of students died in school collapses during the earthquake that devastated southwest China one year ago.

The brother that Ruifeng never knew was among 126 students crushed to death in
Fuxin No. 2 Primary School outside this lush farming town.

“I don’t feel happy at all,” the father, Sang Jun, said about the birth of his new son as his wife bounced the baby up and down in a neighbor’s home. “I was telling my wife
today, if we can’t get justice, we’ll have our son carry on the quest for justice. This issue will be a burden on this child.”

* * *

On the edge of a wheat field here, Mr. Sang has built a new home to replace the one that crumbled during the earthquake. In one corner is a bedroom for his dead son, Xingpeng. Neatly stored inside are a framed photograph of the boy and his most treasured possessions — a fishing rod, white dancing shoes, a glass fish tank.

The new son will not sleep here.

“We’re going to keep this forever,” Mr. Sang said.

Thanks to Chinazhoumom of Chopsticks & Tabouli for the link to the NYT article!

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