29/10/2015 9:47 PM AEDT | Updated 05/01/2017 2:28 AM AEDT

China Will Replace One-Child Policy With Two-Child Policy: State Media

Human rights groups say the controversial standard has led to forced abortions.

China will officially end its longstanding one-child policy and allow couples to have two children, state media reported. 

The policy was first implemented in 1980 as a means of curbing the country's rapidly growing population. Chinese families who disobey the policy can be subject to large fines.

China first announced changes to the law in 2013, allowing couples to have two children if one of the parents was an only child. Activists have campaigned against the policy in recent years amid fears that country's aging population will leave huge gaps in the workforce.

China has not said when the new policy will go into effect

Human rights groups have also opposed the policy over allegations that it has led to forced birth control and abortions. The phenomenon was highlighted last month after a Chinese newspaper reported that one woman was being pressured into having an abortion when eight months pregnant her second child.


AFP via Getty Images
A family makes their way along the steps of a footbridge in Beijing. China will officially end its longstanding one-child policy and allow couples to have two children. 

According to 2013 data, over 330 million abortions had been performed in China since the measures began. The government outlawed coerced abortions in 2002 but, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation notes, it hasn't taken significant steps to enforce it. 

Other chief critics of the policy point to the large numbers of Chinese children who are abandoned by their parents -- as many as 10,000 a year, according to Reuters. In one of the more dramatic cases, a newborn was rescued in August after reportedly being found in a toilet.

At least 600,000 children live in orphanages, according to state data. Those figures have disproportionally included girls and children with disabilitiesCNN and Reuters report.

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