After October’s announcement of a change in China’s infamous one-child policy, the country’s lawmakers have formally approved the new legislation, which will allow couples to now have two children. The law will go in effect on January 1, 2016.

According to CNN, the one-child law was instated during the 1970s in an effort to control population growth. The controversial policy caused forced abortions, mandatory sterilizations and infanticide to occur over the next several decades. In 2013, a Chinese mother named Shen Hongxia died following a risky sterilization procedure that government family planners forced her to undergo.

The revised law was made in response to the issue of “an aging population,” according to a statement released by Communist Party leaders in October. Researchers suggest the country’s rapidly aging population could include over 400 million people over the age of 60 within the next 15 years. “History will look back to see the one-child policy as one of the most glaring policy mistakes that China has made in its modern history,” Wang Feng, a professor at Fudan University and a leading demographic expert on China, had said.

Amnesty International believes the policy change is “not enough.” The human rights group released a statement shortly after the change was announced. “Couples that have two children could still be subjected to coercive and intrusive forms of contraception, and even forced abortions — which amount to torture,” said William Nee, Amnesty International’s China Researcher. “The state has no business regulating how many children people have. If China is serious about respecting human rights, the government should immediately end such invasive and punitive controls over people’s decisions to plan families and have children.”


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