LifeNews.com

International Human Rights Day Letter: China Must Stop Forced Abortions

by Steven Ertelt | Beijing, China | LifeNews.com | 12/10/12 12:15 PM

International

Reggie Littlejohn, the President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, is one of the leading campaigners against forced abortions in China. Today she provided the text of her letter to President Xi Jinping of China to LifeNews that encourages him to stop forced abortions. The letter is also signed by other coalition groups that support an end to forced abortions in China:

December 10, 2012

Dear President Xi Jinping:

As you know, we are currently in the 33rd year of the official institution of China’s brutal One Child Policy, which has caused incalculable suffering to millions of women and families of China. As many within your country, as well as many of us in the international community are saying to you, it is time for this policy to end, not to be replaced by a ‘two-child policy’ as some of your advisors may be suggesting, but to be eradicated from the face of the earth because 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 by coercively preventing more than 400 million births through forced abortions, sterilizations, confiscatory fines, and infanticide – all in violation of international norms.

Instituting a two-child policy will not end gendercide. Indeed, areas in which two children currently are allowed are especially vulnerable to gendercide, the sex-selective abortion of females. According to the 2009 British Medical Journal study of 2005 national census data, in nine Chinese provinces, for “second order births” where the first child is a girl, 160 boys were born for every 100 girls. In two provinces, Jiangsu and Anhui, for the second child, there were 190 boys for every hundred girls born. This study stated, “Sex selective abortion accounts for almost all the excess males.” Because of this gendercide, there are an estimated 37 million Chinese men who will never marry because their future wives were terminated before they were born. This gender imbalance is a powerful, driving force behind trafficking in women and sexual slavery, not only in China, but in neighboring nations as well.

As a respected leader with a reported reputation for investigating government corruption, we commend your attention to the corrupt practices that have completely infiltrated the implementation of the One Child Policy so that today its only practical purpose is to line the pockets of Chinese family planning officials charged with implementing the policy with ill-gotten gains despite the death, suffering, personal injury, destitution and corruption this policy has sown into the stories of so many millions of Chinese lives.

For example, earlier this year, Feng Jianmei, was forcibly aborted at seven months when she and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, could not pay a 40,000 yuan fine ($6300). Officials of Ankang City, Shaanxi Province, tried to force Feng into a car, but she escaped to her aunt’s house. They broke through the gate, so she fled to the mountains, where officials found her hiding under a bed. After forcibly aborting her baby, officials laid the bloody body of her dead daughter next to her in the bed. The story and photograph immediately went viral, sent shockwaves around the world, and ignited a firestorm of outrage. To quell the international outrage, we understand compensation is being paid but the pain is permanent.

Our hearts go out to the victims of forced abortion and their families. The coercive enforcement of China’s cruel and barbaric One Child Policy causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth. It is China’s war against women and girls. Women are forcibly aborted up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Forced abortion is not a choice. It is systematic, institutionalized violence against women, official government rape; and it continues to this day. We urge you to put an end to this hideous crime against humanity, which in many instances also constitutes torture in violation of China’s international obligations.[1]

Feng Jianmei is not alone. Several other cases of coercion have emerged in the past eighteen months:

On October 2, 2012, Ms. Song, a pregnant mother of two, was alone at her home in Heilizhai, Shandong. As reported by her husband, Mr. Qiao, she had heard nothing from the local family planning office and assumed she would safely deliver her third child since she was six months pregnant. But at 5pm, seven family planning officials arrived and pulled her into a van against her will. They drove her 100 km away to the Dongying Universal Love Women’s Hospital. There, officials confiscated her cell phone and stripped her clothing when she tried to resist. They injected her with a sedative, pressed her finger to a “consent form,” then injected a chemical solution into her womb to induce a coerced late-term abortion. Afterwards, officials locked Ms. Song inside the hospital and neglected to return her clothes to her. She had to remain at the hospital alone until she delivered her stillborn baby on October 5. Mr. Qiao says he was furious. He knew that local officials had defied the Chinese government’s recently reported ban on late-term forced abortion: “My wife was definitely six months pregnant.” Initial reports indicated that the family planning officials in Heilizhai were trying to cover up the story. Mr. Qiao says, “The officials threatened us and said they would pay us 30,000 RMB ($4,800), but they haven’t given us anything, Instead they asked me what kind of trouble I was trying to cause. I feel this is not right.” On November 2, it was reported by Mr. Qiao that he has now received 40,000 RMB from the government–but further notes that no officials had yet been punished.

Lijing County, Shandong Province. October 12, 2011. Jihong Ma died during a forced abortion, six months pregnant. Due to the trauma of being seized by Family Planning Officials, she had been placed on oxygen. In the words of a family member:

“More than ten persons from the Family Planning Bureau came, took off the oxygen mask from her and forced her to induce labor. From the time she was put into operating room at 4:00 p.m., there was no news about her . . . At night around 10:00 p.m., someone came, opened the door of the delivery room and slipped away. We ran into the delivery room and saw that the doctors and nurses all disappeared while poor Jihong Ma’s body had already been totally freezing cold, with purple lips and bleeding nose, lying on the operating table without any movement.”

Linyi City, Shandong Province. March 2012. A photo of a forcibly aborted full term baby drowned in a bucket, submitted anonymously, circulated on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, and in the West. The infant reportedly cried at birth, but was drowned in a bucket by family planning personnel.

Huangqiao Town, Jishui County, Jiangxi Province. March 2012. A 46-year-old woman was forcibly sterilized, in retaliation for bringing a petition. The woman posted the following account on the internet:

On March 14, my husband was being escorted back from making a petition. To retaliate for his petition, the town government sent more than 20 strong men. I could no longer give birth to a child at that time, but they still dragged my legs, treated me like an animal, and forcibly performed a tubal ligation on the operating table of the Family Planning Office. Guoqing Luo (the Deputy Town Secretary) also exclaimed, “The Government takes the consequences! The Government has the money!”

Hu Jia, Jianli County, Hubei Province. June 19, 2012. China’s Southern Metropolis Daily reported that Hu Jia was forcibly aborted at nearly eight months. This case was reported by a major Chinese newspaper, indicating the growing discontent with the policy inside China and the courage of the Chinese news media to report it.[2]

Chen Guangcheng. Not only are women and the fathers of their children oppressed by the One Child Policy, so are those who try to defend them. Blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng exposed the widespread and systematic use of forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations in Linyi County in 2005. The Chinese Communist Party imprisoned Chen for four years and three months. They then kept him and his family under strict house arrest from September, 2010 until his dramatic escape. Chen arrived in the United States on May 19, 2012. Just last week Chen released a video that is currently going viral on the internet. In it, Chen explains how human rights are ignored in China in violation of Chinese and international law. He further confirms that he has endured incalculable suffering for human rights in China, and in particular, for the rights of women not to be forcibly aborted or sterilized. He has confirmed that these barbaric practices are still being used ‘extensively.’ Indeed, he has taken a bold step in declaring that the violence against women and babies committed in connection with the coercive enforcement of the One Child Policy ‘is a sin, because, in Chen’s words, “life is sacred.’”

Catastrophic Financial Penalties. Forced abortion and sterilization are not the only way that the One Child Policy devastates families. The often excessive fines paid by couples to save an “out of plan” pregnancy are used to line the pockets of family planning and other officials. These fines can reach up to ten times a person’s annual salary. Job loss is another form of financial coercion and can be catastrophic. In March 2012, the head of the Chemistry Department at Renmin University in Beijing jumped to his death because he was accused of having a second child and threatened with being “discharged from public employment.” Meanwhile, officials are promoted or demoted based on whether they meet birth, abortion and sterilization quotas.

On July 4, 012, the European Parliament voted to pass a resolution “on the forced abortion scandal” in China condemning forced abortion and gendercide in China. The European Parliament’s resolution pointed to the one-child policy as a major factor in human rights abuses in China: “The European Parliament…condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations globally, especially in the context of the one-child policy,” said the final joint resolution.[3] More specifically, the resolution “strongly condemns the decision to force Ms. Feng to have an abortion and condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations globally, especially in the context of the one-child policy.” The resolution further states that “the EU has provided, and still provides, funds for organizations involved in family planning policies in China,” and “urges the Commission to ensure that its funding of projects does not breach” the European Parliament’s commitment against coercive population control.

In the wake of the case of Feng Jianmei, a group of scholars and entrepreneurs in China have issued an open letter calling upon the government to change the One-Child Policy. Businessman James Liang said, “From an economic perspective, the one-child policy is irrational. From a human rights perspective, it’s even less rational.”

Even your experts from China’s Development Research Foundation are reported to be warning you “If China sticks to the one-child policy, we are looking at a situation as bad as the one in southern Europe. Old people will make up a third of the population by 2050.”

We acknowledge reports that family planning officials are being asked to “absolutely stop late-term abortions” and “guide people to do family planning voluntarily.” Unfortunately, it appears from Ms. Song’s case and many others that these cosmetic steps, even if true and insufficient and are being ignored with impunity. A ban is only effective if it is enforced, and the seven Family Planning officials who forcibly aborted Ms. Song’s baby have committed a serious crime. If you value the rule of law, those officials who flouted the law should be punished and stripped of their authority. The family of Qiao Ping’an and Ms. Song should be honored through a public apology.

Moreover, justice should be given to the many other women who have suffered because of the One-Child Policy. Just as China has rightfully demanded an apology from Japan for the atrocities committed during World War II, so also are these wronged women deserving of an apology and appropriate compensation for what they suffered under the One-Child Policy.

You may say it is impossible to regulate local officials who violate the rule against late term forced abortions. This is true—it might be impossible to prevent horrible stories like Feng Jianmei’s or Ms. Song’s as long as the One-Child Policy continues. For this reason, we call upon you to ending the One-Child Policy completely. The unbelievably high fines that are imposed on ordinary Chinese citizens for breaking the One-Child Policy are well publicized . We believe that corrupt officials will continue to harm women as long as these fines—incentives to corruption—remain in place.

President Jinping, you are in a unique position to stop this horrendous violence against women and the financial incentives and penalties that encourage it. As you commence your term as China’s President may the end of the One Child Policy be your earliest legacy to the Chinese people.

Sincerely,

Note: There are more than 23,000 signatories against forced abortion in China at www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=sign_our_petition



[1] The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was ratified in December 1984 and was in full force by June 1987. China became a signatory on December 12, 1986, and ratified the Convention on October 4, 1988.

[2] These recent cases are simply illustrative of a millions of other such cases. For additional cases, see the Coalition to End Violence against Pregnant Women’s complaint on behalf of 37 Chinese Women before the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women found at: www.lawoflifeproject.org/sites/default/files/pdf/pr/LOLP_PR_UNCSW_Complaint.pdf.