Family planning policy revised for quake areas

Updated: 2008-05-27 12:00

The deadly magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan has left tremendous scars on the families there, and the government is rushing to adapt its family planning policy to these families in order to lessen the pain on hurt parents.

A mother (R) holding a portrait of her 12-year-old son Feng Junwei cries next to the ruins of destroyed Fuxing primary school in the earthquake-hit Wufu town of Mianzhu county, Sichuan province May 21, 2008. [Agencies

Local Sichuan officials said Monday that the changed policy will exempt families with a child killed, severely injured or disabled in the devastating quake. Those families can obtain a certificate to have another child, the Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in the capital of hard-hit Sichuan said.

With so many shattered families asking questions, the Chengdu committee is clarifying existing family planning policy guidelines, said a committee official surnamed Wang.

"There are just a lot of cases now, so we need to clarify our policies," said Wang, who declined to elaborate.

The May 12 quake was particularly painful to many Chinese because it killed so many only children. It has left more than 65,000 people dead by Monday, with more than 23,000 still missing.

Officials have not been able to estimate the number of children killed.

China's family planning policy was launched in the late 1970s to control China's exploding population and ensure better education and health care. The law includes some exceptions for ethnic groups, rural families and families where both parents are only children.

In large parts of rural China, most families are allowed a second-child, especially if the first was a girl.

Many Chinese have shown interest in adopting earthquake orphans, and Monday's announcement says there are no limits on the number of earthquake orphans a family can adopt. The adoptions, or even a future birth to a family that adopts an orphan, will not face the limitations of the policy.

Officials estimated last week that the quake left about 4,000 orphans, but they warned they would make every effort to connect children with other family members.

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