From Tania Branigan with the Guardian, “China's one-child policy's human cost fuels calls for reform”:
Forced abortions and sterilisations are illegal, and much less common than they were. But Sharon Hom, the executive director of Human Rights in China, said they are encouraged by family planning targets and perpetuated by the lack of effective checks against local abuses.
Many people buy themselves out of trouble. One family paid a record 1.3m yuan (£136,000) fine last year. Others make hefty "donations" to obtain school places for undocumented children.
Hom said disadvantaged individuals tend to be targeted, while celebrities and wealthy families "can either afford to pay the heavy fines and/or use their government connections for immunity", exacerbating resentments.
Li's parents Li Hongyu and Bai Xuling should have been allowed a second child, because both are disabled. But Bai fell pregnant unexpectedly and officials imposed a 5,000-yuan fine for their failure to get advance approval. The couple earned only 140 yuan a month. Then Bai's state-run employer fired her for breaching the rules. They have spent years pleading with officials and trying to overturn the fine through the courts for a reconsideration. The Guardian was unable to reach Beijing family planning authorities for comment despite repeated attempts.
They insist they should not have to pay and that no one has told them how much it would cost to gain a hukou (household registration) for Li now
Fines are cumulative, said Hom, and because they are heavy to begin with many families are either unable to pay or go into debt to do so. Li's parents now live on less than 2,000 yuan a month, for themselves and their daughter.