Vice President Joe Biden is facing a barrage of criticism for saying he understands and will not second guess China's "one child" policy, a policy that human rights groups say leads to forced abortions and sterilizations.
Biden was telling a Chinese audience about efforts to cut the federal budget in the United States when he introduced the idea of China's efforts to restrict population growth.
“Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I’m not second-guessing -- of one child per family," Biden said during a speech Sunday at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.
"The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable," he added. "So hopefully we can act in a way on a problem that's much less severe than yours, and maybe we can learn together from how we can do that."
Christian conservatives and Republicans criticized Biden for signaling acceptance of the controversial policy.
"China’s one child policy has led to the great human tragedy of forced abortions throughout China, and Vice President Biden’s refusal to ‘second-guess’ this horrendous policy demonstrates great moral indifference on the part of the Obama Administration," said Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
"Americans value life, and we deserve leaders who will stand up against such inhumanity, not cast a blind eye.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he was "deeply troubled" by Biden's remarks. He said China's "reprehensible" one-child policy "has resulted in forced sterilizations and coerced abortions and should not be condoned by any American official."
Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group. Said that Biden's "approval of China’s one-child policy, which uses forced abortion to enforce the law, crosses the lines of ignorant and wrong.
"Then to suggest that the United States should learn from China’s policy, like forcing its citizens to have only one child, to help manage debt, is an insult to the basic American values of life and liberty."
A spokeswoman for Biden said the critics have it backwards, that Biden was pointing out the Chinese policy is wrong.
"The Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization," said spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff.
"The Vice President believes such practices are repugnant. He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience.”