Reggie Littlejohn: Leading the Fight to Stop Forced Abortion and Gendercide in China

International   |   Emily Derois   |   Aug 3, 2016   |   5:51PM   |   Washington, DC

Reggie Littlejohn has an impressive resume as a world-wide advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable people.

An attorney and a graduate of Yale Law School, Littlejohn is the founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition working to expose forced abortion, gendercide and sexual slavery in China.

She has briefed officials at the White House, the Department of State, the United Nations and the Vatican. Littlejohn has also travelled across the United States speaking and raising awareness about the abuses of the brutal One Child Policy in China.

This week, she talked with LifeNews about her work.

LN: How did you become involved fighting forced abortion in China?

Littlejohn: In the mid-90s, I knew that China had a One Child Policy, but I had never stopped to think how it was enforced. Then, as an attorney, I represented a refugee who had given birth to two children and had been forcibly sterilized. As I sat at my desk on a sunny day in San Francisco, I could not believe that on the other side of the earth, Chinese women were at that moment being dragged out of their homes and forcibly sterilized and aborted, up to the ninth month of pregnancy. I had to do something to help them, so I founded Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

LN: Has the pro-life movement helped your work?

Littlejohn: Women’s Rights Without Frontiers seeks to draw pro-life and pro-choice activists together to oppose coercive population control. We’ve had some success with those who are pro-choice, especially after speaking at the European Parliament, the United Nations and the White House. CNN published a piece on gendercide I wrote. But the pro-life movement has been much more embracing of our efforts. I am very grateful to the leadership of the pro-life movement for its international perspective, for caring about people on the other side of the earth.

In the United States, we’ve had about 57 million abortions since the Roe v. Wade decision. In China, the Chinese government boasts that it has “prevented” more than 400 million lives. They have stated that this is their contribution to the fight against global warming – as though human beings were walking carbon footprints. The greatest flow of human life has been pouring out of China ever since it instituted its One-Child Policy in 1980. Although they have made some modifications under the new Two-Child Policy, forced abortion, and the sex-selective abortion and abandonment of baby girls must stop. The pro-life movement, including LifeNews, has been essential in getting this message out.

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LN: Have forced abortion and gendercide stopped under the new Two-Child Policy?

Littlejohn: When China modified its One-Child Policy to create a Two-Child Policy, the headlines in the mainstream media were misleading. Headlines like “China Abandons One-Child Policy” give the impression that coercive population control has stopped in China. Not so. Even though every couple can now have two children, single mothers and women pregnant with third children still legally can be forcibly aborted.

LN: What are you working on right now?

Littlejohn: We are continuing our international advocacy campaign to raise awareness that forced abortion and involuntary sterilization have not ended under the new Two-Child Policy. WRWF will not cease its efforts until all coercive population control in China has been eradicated, both legally and in practice.

We are also continuing our Save a Girl Campaign, in which we have saved hundreds of baby girls from sex-selective abortion and abandonment. We have a network – boots on the ground — in one area of rural China. Even under the new Two-Child Policy, second daughters are still at risk. Where the first child is a girl, many couples want their second child to be a boy, so the abortion and abandonment of baby girls continues. When our network learns of a woman who is pregnant with a girl and who has scheduled herself for an abortion – or who has given birth to a girl and is being pressured to abandon her – a WRWF fieldworker will actually go to her door and say, “Please don’t abort or abandon your baby because she is a girl. She is a precious daughter. Girls are as good as boys! We will give you a monthly stipend for a full year, to empower you to keep your daughter.” The vast majority of mothers are very grateful to keep their daughters, and we have saved hundreds of baby girls this way.

LN: Tell us about your Chinese daughter.

Littlejohn: It is a joy that my husband and I are raising Anni Zhang, the daughter of Zhang Lin, who is a political prisoner in China. When the Chinese government could not silence Zhang Lin by persecuting him directly, they detained his young daughter Anni. She was only 10 years old and in 4th grade when she was kidnapped out of her elementary school and detained over night. She was cold, hungry and terrified.

Long story short, with the help of many brave people in the United States and China, we were able to get her out of China and are now raising her as our own daughter. She recently won a piano competition to play in Carnegie Hall! She was almost forcibly aborted as a second child, so she is a shining example of the beauty, brilliance and love that are being lost every day through China’s brutal population control policy.

LN: You continue to fight to end forced abortions in China. How is the abortion situation in China different from that of the United States?

Littlejohn: In China, there is no debate between “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” The debate is about whether forced abortion and involuntary sterilization should continue because of China’s alleged “population problem.” But China’s problem is not that it has too many people. China’s population problem is that it has too few young people to sustain its rapidly aging population. And it has too few women. The sex-selective abortion of baby girls is rampant – so much so that China now has 37 million more men than women. This gender imbalance is driving human trafficking and sexual slavery.

LN: Some Americans associate abortion with feminism and women’s rights, however in China abortion is used to control women. Why are Chinese women being forced to have abortions?

Littlejohn: I testified before Congress on this very issue, on April 30, 2015. There are several reasons I believe that the Chinese government will never relinquish coercive population control. One main reason is that the Chinese Communist Party is a brutal, totalitarian regime. I believe they use forced abortion and sterilization as a way to terrorize the people. It is social control, masquerading as population control.

LN: During the 1980s you and your husband volunteered for six weeks at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. How did Mother Teresa encourage you in your work to save women and babies in China?

Littlejohn: Working with Mother Teresa was absolutely life-changing. She believed that every single person is Jesus Christ in disguise and she treated everyone with equal respect, from a leprosy victim dying on the street to a president or Pope.

LN: What is your favorite book?

Littlejohn: The Bible, which I have read cover to cover many times. It is an unparalleled source of strength, inspiration and challenge. Proverbs 24:11-12 was a driving force in my decision to dedicate my life to saving women and babies in China.

LN: What would you suggest to someone who wants to help women and their families in China?

Littlejohn: You can pray, volunteer, and donate to our Save a Girl Campaign. The women and babies of China need all of our help!