Details of Forced Abortions in China Emerge as Blind Activist Detained

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 3, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Details of Forced Abortions in China Emerge as Blind Activist Detained Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 3, 2005

Linyi, China ( — Since he placed a spotlight on a brutal campaign by population control officials in one region of China, blind activist Chen Guangcheng has been under house arrest and twice assaulted for trying to leave. Now, some of the details of the thousands of forced abortions and sterilizations he helped expose are coming to light.

In a comprehensive report by the San Francisco Chronicle, women who were subjected to violence, harassment and forced abortions tell their story.

Zhu Hongying, 40, and her husband, Xia Jiandong, 40 were farmers in a local village outside the huge city of Linyi. They already had one son and when population control officials found out Zhu was five months pregnant, she hid with family members in Linyi.

"We panicked and ran into (Linyi) to hide," Zhu said during an interview with the Chronicle by telephone because police have sealed off her area following Chen’s detention.

Zhu said the officials arrested three of her sisters in order to force her to come out of hiding.

When she returned home, "The people from the family planning department were waiting for us. They demanded 700 RMB (about $90, two months’ wages for Zhu) to release my sisters-in-law, and then they pushed me into a van and took me to a local family planning clinic."

Once there, eight officials surrounded her and coerced her into agreeing to have an abortion, she told the San Francisco newspaper.

"I just kept sobbing and begging, but no one listened," she said. "Finally, I was so weak, I just said ‘yes.’ Then a doctor came in and gave me an injection in the stomach. After I took the shot, the whole day I didn’t feel anything. The second day in the early morning blood and water all flowed out of me. Then the baby came out, but it was dead. It was a boy."

After she had the abortion, her husband said, a nurse came back into the room, placed the baby in a black plastic bag.

"She told me to go throw it into a truck, which had a large container kind of thing at the back," Xia explained to the Chronicle. "When I opened the door and looked in, it was full of black bags and blood."

Just a week later, population control officials arrested Zhu again because they found out one of her sisters was pregnant for a second time. They held Zhu for ransom for five days until her family paid another hefty fine for her release.

Her sister-in-law was forcibly aborted as well.

What the officials did in Zhu’s case and the case of thousands of other women and families is illegal. Population control officials in Beijing say the local authorities have been removed from their posts, but they appear to be doing nothing to compensate the victims or help Chen be released from illegal custody.

"It is a crazy and merciless situation," the 34 year-old Chen said just days before he was abducted by local Linyi officials and placed under house arrest. Those actions came after Chen spoke with the Washington Post and Time Magazine and brought the terrible campaign to light.

"Lately, no one was really enforcing the one-child policy. But as the population in Shandong has ballooned, I think the provincial government put pressure on local family planning departments, who’ve just gone nuts," he said.

In the few months before he spoke with reporters, Chen said 7,000 women had been forcibly aborted or sterilized. He went to Beijing to plead his case with government officials and alert the world when he was detained.