The Family Way

Illustration for TIME by Robert Hunter

In the rubble of the Sichuan earthquake, one particular horrific image piled upon another, until they nearly numbed a viewer: children buried in their collapsed schools, and many others orphaned. With my own first child due shortly, I found the sight of suffering children particularly trying. But another series of images also deeply affected me: that of grieving parents who, because of China's one-child policy, would have lost their only children.

Since 1979, when Deng Xiaoping and other Chinese leaders began worrying that overpopulation would lead to perpetual poverty, Chinese people have been prevented...

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