The health ministry in China released figures yesterday showing 336 million abortions have been carried out in the Asian nation since it first implemented the one-child population control policy.
Started in 1980, the policy, which prohibits most Chinese couples form having more than one baby and limits rural residents to two, has resulted in severe human rights abuses. Family planning officials frequently jail couples who refuse to comply, sentence them to house arrest or labor camps, revoke jobs or governmental support, use physical harassment or violence and often target other family members.
Today, the London Telegraph reports:
Official statistics showed that in addition to the terminations, Chinese doctors have sterilised 196 million men and women since 1971.
Perhaps unexpectedly, most people in China support the one-child policy, believing that the country would have suffered an impossible drain on food and resources without it, according to a 2008 survey by the Pew Research Centre, which found more than three in four Chinese were in favour.
There are more than 13 million abortions a year, or 1,500 an hour, in China, according to government researchers, who blame the high figure on a lack of sex education.
Fewer than ten per cent of sexually active couples regularly use condoms, according to the state-run Science and Technology Research Institute. By comparison, there are roughly 11 million abortions each year in India.
China’s demographics have been dramatically skewed by strict family planning. Last year, the working age population shrank for the first time in 50 years, a serious threat in an economy built on a huge pool of cheap labour.
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Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, one of the leading pro-life and human rights advocates in Congress, puts the one-child policy in perspective.
“In 1980 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party sent an open letter to party members setting forth its plan to embark on a national one-child policy,” Smith said. “What came out of that letter? A cruel and inhumane policy, a human rights violation that is, in scope and seriousness, the worst human rights abuse in the world today. No other government policy anywhere else in the world systematically punishes, abuses, and violates women so grossly as this.”
Smith said the policy has made it so brothers and sisters are illegal and children are growing up in a society with no aunts and uncle because the one-child policy has now been around for a generation.
The policy is unlike any other in the world in that it requires all women to obtain a birth permit before becoming pregnant and children of unwed mothers are subjected to abortions. And it monitors the reproductive cycles of all women of childbearing age through a system of mandatory, regular, and crudely invasive physical check-ups.
He says the policy has created an “atmosphere of fear” where anonymous pregnancy informants spy on citizens.
“The brave pregnant woman who refuses to give in is usually detained and beaten – or, if she goes into hiding, her relatives are detained and beaten. Families that succeed in hiding an “out-of-plan” pregnancy are punished with fines up to ten times the average annual income,” he explained.
Smith said the abortions have resulted in a policy of “gendercide” where more than 120 boys are born for every 100 girls. This has created a bachelor society of men who will be unable to marry and has given rise to more crime, sex trafficking, prostitution, and other problems.
He said the policy has resulted in a sky-high suicide rate for Chinese women who face such a brutal and terrorizing regime.
Smith said those who don’t believe the one-child policy is resulting in forced abortions need only look at the numerous media reports, reports from Chinese people who have fled the country, and human rights activists monitoring the situation.
“The violence of the one-child policy is absolutely ongoing. This year there are reliable reports of large scale and violent abortion enforcement campaigns in Guangdong, Fujian, Yunnan, Zhejiang, and Jiangxi provinces,” he said.
Smith also appealed to President Obama and called on him to “speak out in defense of the Chinese people tomorrow, especially women and children, on this terrible anniversary.” Doing so, he said, would provide encouragement for millions of Chinese people, “to suddenly feel that the leader of the free world understands and empathizes with their plight.”