by Steven Ertelt
June 7, 2007
San Francisco, CA (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that women who are victims of forced abortions in China, under that nation’s one-child family planing policy, can seek asylum in the United States. The decision comes after a rash of dozens of forced abortions in southwestern China that led to massive protests.
Courts have previously allowed victims of forced sterilizations to seek asylum and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling Wednesday expends that to women who are forced to undergo abortions and their spouses.
The three judge panel of the federal appeals court ruled unanimously, according to an AP report.
"Both forms of persecution have serious, ongoing effects," the panel wrote. "We see no way to distinguish between the victims of forced sterilization and the victims of forced abortion for withholding of removal eligibility purposes."
The ruling came in regard to the case of Zi Zhi Tang, whose wife was forced to undergo an abortion in 1980. After the abortion, Tang’s employer sent him away to Guam and his work visa eventually expired.
Tang appealed a ruling preventing him from staying there and not going back to China because of persecution there by government officials. A judge denied his plea saying Tang’s abortion wasn’t forced because she didn’t try to escape family planning officials.
The appeals court ruling overturns that judge’s decision.
It follows on the heels of a decision the 9th Circuit made in March 2005 in the case of a Chinese man whose wife was forcibly sterilized under China’s coercive one-child family planning policy.
Quili Qu came to the United States in 1997 on a business visa and applied for permanent asylum in 2001.
He told an immigration judge that he and his wife married in 1978, but they were denied a permit to have a child because Chinese officials believed his families was affiliated with an anti-Communist group and because they were Christians.
When Qu’s wife became pregnant, she fled to a rural area to escape authorities.
"Involuntary sterilization irrevocably strips persons of one of the important liberties we possess as humans: our reproductive freedom," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the three judge panel.
"Therefore, one who has suffered involuntary sterilization, either directly or because of the sterilization of a spouse, is entitled," without having to prove anything else, to refuge in the U.S., he wrote.
The 9th Circuit has consistently overturned asylum rulings by immigration judges.
In September 2004, the court approved asylum for a Chinese man whose wife was forced by population control officials in China to have an abortion.