Supreme Court Denies China Man’s Asylum Request in Forced Abortion Case
by Steven Ertelt
May 12, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an asylum request from the husband of a woman who had been the victim of a forced abortion in China. The man hoped to join his wife in the United States to flee persecution from the oppressive family planning policy that allows couples just one child.
The nation’s high court had to weigh in on a conflict between federal appeals courts over whether federal asylum law protects just the women who are forced abortion victims or their partners as well.
Last year, a ruling against asylum for the partner of one victim by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put it at odds with the 9th Circuit, which supported it.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Yi Qiang Yang who had a traditional marriage to his wife when he was 20 and she was 17. However, Chinese officials ruled they were too young to have their one child because they didn’t have an officially-recognized marital ceremony.
As a result, family planning officials forced Yi’s wife to have an abortion at eight months into the pregnancy.
According to an AP report, the justices denied the asylum request without comment and didn’t issue an opinion with the ruling.
In the June 2007 decision, the 2nd Circuit ruled that spouses and unmarried partners of women who face inhumane treatment under rigid Chinese population control measures do not automatically qualify for asylum.
A month earlier, the 9th Circuit ruled that asylum protections include the women as well as their spouses or partners.
The Bush administration took the position that the 1996 asylum law doesn’t cover partners, even though the pro-life Congressman who wrote the law said it was intended to cover them.
Part of the difference in approach has to do with the distinction between traditional and legal marriage. U.S. courts and judges appear to be allowing partners to seek asylum when they are involved in a legally-recognized marriage but not in cases like Yi’s that involve traditional marriage ceremonies.
According to an AP report, Solicitor General Paul Clement wrote that the distinction is important vis-a-vis U.S. law.
"An applicant who participates in a traditional marriage ceremony, but is not legally married, is not automatically deemed eligible for asylum if his partner is forced to undergo an abortion," he said.
But Rep. Chris Smith, who authored the law in dispute, says the Bush administration is wrong to blame the victim and should take a more expansive view of the law allowing all victims to seek asylum regardless of the kind of marriage they had.
"The Solicitor General is profoundly wrong and misguided in taking that view," he told AP.
"Not to include both when both are harmed irreparably would be a gross miscarriage of justice," Smith said. "These are bona fide marriages. But even if this were boyfriend-girlfriend, what would happen if the couple defended their unborn child? She gets asylum and he doesn’t?"