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BEIJING, October 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The world's most restrictive population control policy has been relaxed – but human rights advocates say they will not rest until all forced and sex-selective abortions are abolished.

Chinese Communist Party officials have announced they will change the terms of the nation's 35-year-old one child policy to allow all Chinese couples the right to have two children.

The state-run Xinhua news agency announced that Communist officials eased the restrictions “to improve the balanced development of [China's] population.”

Introduced in the late 1970s and officially enacted in 1980, Chinese officials said the one child policy was necessary to limit its population boom. Communist agents enforced the policy through a series of birth permits, compulsory sterilizations, and forced abortions.

Chinese officials announced in 2012 that the one child policy prevented 400 million births, a number that includes 336 million abortions – more than five times the number of abortions that have taken place in the United States since Roe v. Wade.

Now the nation, which numbers 1.3 billion people, is facing a demographic spiral. The Chinese workforce will lose 67 million people over the course of the in the next 15 years, and the United Nations estimates that 440 million Chinese – approximately one-quarter of the population – will be over the age of 60 by 2050.

And an estimated 20 to 40 million Chinese men will not be able to find brides due to the practice of sex-selective abortion, fueling a growing sex trafficking industry.

The regime's brutal methods drew international condemnation, especially following the revelations of human rights attorney Chen Guangcheng. Another turning point came in 2012, when a photo of a shattered forced abortion victim Feng Jianmei – whom Family Planning officials beat and forced to have an abortion before laying her child's corpse beside her on her hospital bed – went viral.

Facing mounting global criticism and domestic realities, in recent years officials had begun amending the policy, allowing ethnic minorities and couples in rural areas whose first child is a girl to have a second child. Two years ago, couples where at least one person was an only child were given the right to have a second child recognized by the government.

The capital city of Beijing began approving a second child for some couples last year – but the government still denied 5,000 couples the right to have more than one child.

Human rights observers say the new population control measures do not go far enough, because they keep in place the system of forced abortions and government-controlled fertility regulation. Today's policy change simply allows more children to be born before triggering state penalties.

Human rights activist Reggie Littlejohn of Women's Rights Without Frontiers wrote in an open letter to Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping last month, “It will not work to replace it by a ‘two-child policy’ as some of your advisors have suggested. Rather, official, state-sponsored forced abortion under the one child policy should be eradicated from the face of the earth,” saying it has “caused more violence toward women and girls than any other official policy on earth, and any other official policy in the history of the world.”

“As long as the quotas and system of surveillance remains, women still do not enjoy reproductive rights,” Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch told international media sources.