HUMAN RIGHTS: by John BallantyneNews Weekly
China announces end to forced abortions
, September 29, 2012
China has surprised the world by announcing it is ending its decades-long practice of forced abortions and sterilisations.
However, pro-life activists are divided over whether Beijing’s pledge of good conduct should be taken at face value or whether it is mere lip-service.
Beijing’s unexpected announcement on September 16 followed an international outcry over the forced abortion of a Chinese mother Feng Jianmei on June 2, 2012, while she was seven months pregnant with her second child.
Officials in her native Zhenping county, in China’s Shaanxi province, ordered Feng and her husband to pay a 40,000-yuan fine for violating the nation’s one-child policy. When the couple were unable to do so, authorities seized Feng, made her sign an agreement to have an abortion, and held her down while injecting her with a poison to kill the unborn child.
Feng was reportedly traumatised by the incident and fell ill afterwards.
On June 11, Feng’s family posted graphic pictures of her dead child on the Internet. The images went viral, shocking people across the world and generating international media scrutiny of China’s coercive one-child policy.
On July 5, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning both Feng’s forced abortion and the policy of forced abortion in general.
In August, Samuel B. Casey, managing director and general counsel of the Washington DC-based Law of Life Project, filed on behalf of a number of pro-life organisations an official complaint, with the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, on China’s violence against pregnant women.
The pro-life organisations behind the campaign were Australian-based Endeavour Forum Inc., Canada Silent No More, Women for Life International, All Girls Allowed (AGA), China Aid and the Jubilee Campaign.
Helping to draft the complaint to the UN were Babette Francis of Endeavour Forum Inc., Denise Mountenay of Canada Silent No More, and Molly White of the US-based Women for Life International. The three organisations currently each have NGO representative status at the UN on behalf of their respective countries.
On September 16, Allan E. Parker, president of the Texas-based Justice Foundation, announced the unexpected news that China had publicly promised to end forced abortions and sterilisations.
However, Steven Mosher, president of the US-based Population Research Institute, warned that it was too early to determine whether Beijing was telling the truth or not.
Mosher, who blew the whistle on forced abortions in China as far back as 1980, said on September 18: “Call me cynical … but I have a rather different take on the Chinese Communist Party’s latest effort at damage control in the one-child policy.”
He went on to warn: “Reports that the Chinese Party-State has ended its practice of forcibly aborting women pregnant in violation of the one-child policy are premature.
“The Chinese Party-State has asserted for over three decades that the one-child policy is ‘entirely voluntary’.
“But this assertion of ‘voluntarism’ is no more true now than it was when I saw women who were five-, seven- and even nine-months pregnant held down on the operating table and aborted.
“Women continue to be arrested, aborted and sterilised against their will at this very moment.”
Mosher said that the claim that China has ended its cruel and inhuman practice of forced abortions originates with the US-based pro-life, pro-woman organisation, All Girls Allowed (AGA), which is dedicated to “restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers” and to “revealing the injustice of China’s One-Child Policy”.
Mosher said that AGA reached its conclusion “after learning that a Chinese government ‘document [was issued] to Family Planning offices that bans forced abortion and sterilisation’.”
Mosher maintained: “I do not doubt that such a document was issued. Indeed, I expected that the Chinese government would engage in exactly this kind of damage control.
“After all, the recent spate of adverse publicity generated by blind activist Chen Guangcheng’s flight into exile, and Feng Jianmei’s brutal forced abortion at seven months’ gestation, has made hundreds of millions of people around the world and inside of China aware of its crimes against humanity.
“The Chinese Party-State, which is responsible for such criminal acts, has lost face, and is now trying recover.”
Mosher went on: “Coercion will continue. How will officials successfully extort huge fines from women and their families for violating the one-child policy if they can’t threaten women with forced abortion and sterilisation for not paying up?
“This latest document will no more end forced abortion that did the 2002 Population and Family Planning Law of the People’s Republic of China, Article 4, which directed population-control officials to ‘enforce the law in a civil manner, and [they may] not infringe upon legitimate rights and interests of citizens’.”
Noted Mosher: “Forced abortions and other abuses won’t end until the Chinese Party-State not only abandons the one-child policy, but abandons its Maoist-Marxist belief that it has the right to control the reproduction of human beings under a state plan.”