Letter: Apple May be Enabling Forced Abortions in China

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2012   |   12:41PM   |   Washington, DC

Apple, the maker of the popular iPhone, iPad, and computers, is the subject of a new letter by human rights campaigners who are concerned that the electronics giant is facilitating forced abortions in China with its pregnancy testing policies.

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, has joined forces with blind activist Chen Guangcheng, human rights activist Andrew Duncan, and China Aid President Bob Fu, in sending a letter to Apple President Tim Cook, concerning Apple products made in China.

They are concerned that Apple is allowing the coercive pregnancy testing of female employees and that those employees may be subjected to forced abortions under the one-child policy China has had in place for decades.

“We are challenging Apple to assure customers that products made in China are not made in facilities that practice coercive family planning or stifle free speech,” Littlejohn told LifeNews on Friday.

“According to Apple’s own 2012 internal investigation, 24 Apple facilities conducted pregnancy tests, and 56 facilities did not have policies and procedures that prohibit discriminatory practices based on pregnancy,” the attorney said. “Apple says that it has required that these practices must stop.  Apple, however,  has been auditing its facilities since 2006.  Why, then, is it still the case that pregnancy testing is reported as rampant? Either Apple’s requirement that these practices must stop is new, or its policies to implement it are ineffectual.”

Littlejohn continued, “We want to know what has happened to women at Apple factories when they have been found to be pregnant without a birth permit.  Have they been referred for a forced abortion or involuntary sterilization?  With the one child/forced abortion law in place, how can Apple assure consumers that its products are made in facilities free of coercive population control?”

“We are also asking Apple to take the lead in endorsing our ‘Principles of Corporate Responsibility,’ in which multinational corporations will refuse to comply with coercive family planning practices at their facilities in China,” she added.

Apple has not yet responded to the letter and did not return an email from LifeNews seeking a comment for this story.

Apple  can help stop forced abortions and other coercive population control measures, Chen said in an interview this week.

“Apple in China should take a very active role,” Chen said. “There’s a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple.”

This is the first time since arriving in the U.S. that the civil rights activist is speaking against his country’s forced birth control policy, the issue that led to his arrest and jail term in China. Chen received a fellowship to study at New York University after seeking help at the U.S. embassy in Beijing just as high-level talks between the two countries got under way in April.



According to Bloomberg News, Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment beyond information provided in the company’s corporate- responsibility report, where it says it considers conducting pregnancy tests discriminatory.

“Chen and other China human-rights advocates are seeking a meeting with Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to discuss their concerns. They sent a letter to Cook last week asking Apple to adopt measures to end coercive family planning practices in its factories. The proposals included prohibiting access to factories for government family-planning officials and refusing to report women who are pregnant without birth permits. The group also wants other companies, including Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), to urge the Chinese government to drop its policy,” Bloomberg indicated.

Apple relies on Foxconn Technology Group, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317) and others to build its products.