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Underground Catholics embrace new rules on childbirth

Families no longer need to worry about fines, school registration
Underground Catholics embrace new rules on childbirth

China ended its three-decade one-child policy in early 2015. Many see the policy shift to be addressing the needs of an aging society and to boost domestic economy, as opposed human rights concerns. (Photo by ucanews.com)

Published: March 03, 2016 11:09 AM GMT
Updated: March 03, 2016 11:10 AM GMT

Five years ago, Maria Yang rejected the idea of becoming pregnant again. She had all sorts of worries: tedious childcare, less freedom, the economic burden of quitting her job.

Today, her second son is 7 months old. Her change of mind was brought by the New Catechumen group in her parish in northeastern China, where Yang and her husband learned to be open to life.

"It is the will of God. It is what God's love is. Since we understood that, we didn't use contraceptives anymore," she said.

Although the Chinese government has put an end to China's one-child policy on Jan. 1, the parish priest of this underground community told ucanews.com that the birth control policy — old or new — was "never the concern" of lay couples.

Since Yang's baby was born before the introduction of the two-child policy, she still may be fined. "We haven't got him registered yet," she said. 

According to official statistics, China is estimated to have 13 million unregistered people, mostly due to violations of the one-child policy that started in 1979. Parents of unregistered children can be fined and their children are ineligible for public school and other social benefits. 

Like many others in China, Yang said she "simply wanted to have more children."

"The national policy or a penalty was not our concern," she said.



Many believe the new two-child policy is not about human rights but was set forth to address the needs of an aging society and to boost domestic economy.

"The concept of human rights does not exist in China's value standard. It is not the reason for the government to relax the policy," a former Catholic journalist who identified herself as Clare told ucanews.com.

The consideration of the two-child policy is the same when China introduced the one-child policy, said Ng Wai-kit, professor of Economics at Hong Kong City University. "It's an economic measure. The population is too huge and it puts pressures on society," he noted.

Before these economic aims yield results, new family issues has already popped up — threats of suicide from "little emperors," a phrase that refers to the once doted lone children born under the one-child policy.

Since China relaxed the birth policy, there have been occasional reports of doted children threating to kill themselves if their parents give birth to another child.

In the church, however, an open attitude to life helped Yang's eldest son Liu Jianbo adjust to life with a sibling.

"I support my parents' decision. This is what I learned in church. We have to be open to God's gift. And if you want to become a Christian, you have to be a giver of love," said Liu, 18.

Parishioners multiple children say that more children bring a joyful atmospheric change to their families. 

"My relation with my mother was not particular good in the past. We argued a lot. Now with the birth of my brother, I understand my responsibility in the family," Liu said. 

Another laywoman who identified herself as Annie said she definitely wants to have a second child as she herself was raised in a two-child family. "More children make a family merrier," she said.

As the birth policy is still a topic of discussion among young couples, "the church should seize the opportunity to spread Catholic teaching on birthrights … so that more people understand the goodness of procreation," said Zhong Xuebin, a lay Catholic.

Nowadays, some people are so indifferent to abortion that they "treat it like going to the doctor for a flu" but this is the baseline of life, he said.

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