- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden can’t keep his foot out of his mouth. On Sunday, he said he “fully understands” and “is not second-guessing” Beijing’s one-child-per-family policy. The remark came during an unscripted question-and-answer session with students at China’s Sichuan University. An Obama administration spokesman backpedaled, claiming the vice president finds the coercive aspects of the policy - which include forced abortion and sterilization - “repugnant.”

“Repugnant” barely begins to describe Beijing’s population laws. The “one child” rule - codified in the National Population and Family-planning Law - was implemented in 1979 during the heyday of anxiety about supposed global overpopulation. It was over-the-top even by the utilitarian standards of Zero Population Growth fanatics; fertility rates in China peaked in 1967 at almost six children per family and had dropped by over half before the policy was formulated. Nevertheless, the communists imposed the draconian standard, and Beijing now brags that the state since has prevented 400 million births in one way or another.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Human Rights Report on China, “the country’s birth limitation policies retained harshly coercive elements, in law and practice.” Unauthorized pregnancies could result in forced abortions even up to the moment of birth, which is more properly called infanticide. The policy has been of special concern to radical feminists, usually the champions of unlimited abortion and birth control, because of the prevalence in the People’s Republic of gender-selective abortions favoring male children. Aborting unborn girls is so widespread that Beijing has attempted to ban ultrasounds for pregnant women regardless of their beneficial medical applications.

Parents who expand their families beyond authorized limits face stiff punishment. According to the State Department, “those who violated the child-limit policy by having an unapproved child or helping another do so faced disciplinary measures such as social compensation fees [i.e., massive fines], job loss or demotion, loss of promotion opportunity, expulsion from the party … and other administrative punishments, including in some cases the destruction of private property.” Some parents are allowed to have a second child, but this carries great risks. In 2010, the city of Puning “conducted two campaigns of ‘sterilization of married couples that have two children, ” resulting in over 11,000 such forced procedures. Those who didn’t cooperate with “family-planning” officials were severely punished.

The hedge statement issued by Mr. Biden’s office said that “the Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth-limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization. The vice president believes such practices are repugnant. He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable.” This corrected stance isn’t as strong as it seems. The White House was careful only to condemn the coercive aspects of the one-child policy, not its intent or the fact that it has led to the premature end of hundreds of millions of lives. The administration is not taking a stand for life but merely reinforcing its view of the supposed “right to choose.” This anti-life stance is doubly shameful for Mr. Biden, who wears his Catholicism on his sleeve despite being publicly opposed to his church’s moral teachings on life.

Another student questioner in Sichuan prefaced his remarks by calling the vice president an “accomplished public speaker.” If only Mr. Biden would stick to the teleprompter like his boss.