China Woman Condemned for Having Abortion of Baby With Cleft Palate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 24, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China Woman Condemned for Having Abortion of Baby With Cleft Palate Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 24, 2006

Beijing, China ( — A woman who has posted in her Internet diary a notation about having an abortion on a baby with a cleft lip is coming under international scrutiny. Both Chinese and American media outlets have written about the woman and the condemnation that has followed the abortion.

The woman says she had an abortion six months into pregnancy of a health baby with no other physical problems other than a cleft lip — which can be surgically repaired in what has become a routine medical procedure.

"I am totally and utterly distressed at the thought of my baby mumbling and stuttering the way my niece does who also has a harelip. I cannot find a way out," the woman wrote originally on her diary, according to the China Daily news service.

She also wrote of the ultrasound she had done and the pictures she saw of her baby.

"It was the first time I had ever seen the lovely creature who has accompanied me for six months as I lay on a hospital bed for a check up. He is so cute. Sometimes he stretches, sometimes he gapes, and sometimes he sucks his little fingers. However it makes me shiver to see a cleft, ranging from 3 to 7 millimeters in his upper lip," she wrote the next day.

The unnamed woman says she asked her parents and husband what to do and decided to have the abortion.

"I called my husband, parents, brother and friends. To my surprise, they also thought I should have an abortion. Finally I made up my mind to give him up," she wrote, according to China Daily.

Numerous people have posted comments in reaction to the woman’s story saying they strongly disagree with her decision to have an abortion.

One poster, Dr. Zhang Silai, wrote that "Being a doctor, I don’t agree with Fish, since a harelip is not incurable and a life shouldn’t be terminated for such a tiny defect."

On the other hand, Chinese pop diva Faye Wong and her husband, actor Li Yapeng, took their daughter, who also had a cleft palate to the United States for surgery.

Li wrote in his blog, "there’s a tale in South America that every baby born with harelip is a god. Every year there’s about 10 thousand ‘gods’ like our daughter Li Yan baptized in China. We have worked out a plan to establish a charity fund to help them."

China Daily reports that China has launched a new projected aimed at helping children with cleft palates get medical attention to treat their condition.

Abortions of babies with cleft palates has been a contentious issues before.

British Department of Health figures this year show that about 2,000 abortions were done supposedly because of a risk that the unborn child would be born physically or mentally disabled.

In 22 percent of those cases, the unborn baby was diagnosed as possibly having Down syndrome and 11 of the abortions came because the baby had a cleft palate.

Those upset pro-life advocates, including the Reverend Joanna Jepson, who grew up with a facial deformity and has a brother with Down’s Syndrome. She led a fight to prosecute abortion practitioners who did abortions in such cases, but British officials refused.