The forced abortion scandal in Ankang, Shaanxi Province was brought to a conclusion when Feng Jianmei, the woman who had her seven-month pregnancy forcefully terminated, was awarded 70,600 yuan ($11,075) in compensation Tuesday.
Feng's experience prompted a nationwide debate on grass-roots human rights protection and the implementation of the family planning policy.
The forced late-stage abortion was, first of all, unacceptable. Grass-roots family planning commissions all over the country must learn this lesson.
The enforcement of the one-child policy should evolve at a time when the public has higher demands of human rights standards. It needs to seek a population-control method with a minimum social price. Forceful approaches will have to be abandoned.
But the necessity of population-control policy should not be negated by the past mistakes made in implementing it. The policy was based on the deliberations of several generations of demographers.
Whether the family-planning policy needs adjustment and how to realize it is a matter that is currently undergoing intense debate.
However, how to conduct the adjustment has to be based on national-level research and public opinion consultation. It cannot be decided by a few opinion leaders and media.
Criticism of forced abortion, while justified, should not turn into encouragement of violations of the population control policy, which will create additional obstacles for grass-roots family planning implementation.
Admittedly, the one-child policy is at odds with people's freedom of choice. Ideally, a family should be able to have as many children as it desires. That freedom is now limited.
But this has to be considered against China's massive population. Controlling its numbers is aimed at creating conditions for better human rights so that the current and future generations can have decent lives. In general, it is aimed at improving human rights, not the opposite.
It is easy to see China has meager resources per capita. The life of Western developed countries is appealing, but it is impossible to copy completely here. A huge population and limited resources means China needs more sense of planning in its development path. This is a reality we cannot evade.
In the past, individual rights were repeatedly sacrificed for the collective interest. Now the emphasis on individual rights often goes to extremes, putting the public's interests behind.
Forced abortions must be forbidden, but unlimited child birth shouldn't be encouraged. Both are crucial to this country.