One-child exemptions permitted in China

Parents whose only child was killed or severely injured in the May 12 earthquake in China will be able to have another baby as an exemption from the one-child policy.

The Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in Sichuan Province issued the ruling in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, which resulted in an estimated 10,000 children dying in collapsed school buildings, the International Herald Tribune reported, based on an Associated Press account.

Some mothers may be unable to benefit from the exemption, however. They may either be too old to produce a child or have been sterilized, said Zhongxin Sun, a sociology professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, according to the Herald Tribune.

China's population control policy, instituted in 1979, generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Provincial officials have enforced the rule with heavy fines for more than one child. Forced abortions and sterilizations also have been widely reported under the mandate.

According to the International Herald Tribune changes, however, may come as little solace to parents who have only a photo, a backpack or the ashes of their dead son or daughter. Zhongxin Sun, a sociology professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the IHT some mothers may be too old to conceive; others may have undergone sterilization. "To lose a child is to lose everything for Chinese parents," said Professor Sun, who is a visiting scholar at Yale University Law School. "A child is their only hope."


BP news was used in this report.