By Dave Andrusko
Some people worried that once pro-life human rights activist Chen Guangcheng escaped his house arrest and eventually made his way to the United States, public interest in China’s horrific policy of forced abortions would fade away. They perhaps did not realize that this ghastly abridgement of human rights remains ongoing and perhaps they forgot how information in the age of Twitter–even in a totalitarian state like China–can makes it way around the world.
Initially detained on May 30, Feng Jianmei was forced to abort her seven-month unborn baby three days later, sparking an unmatched expression of public abhorrence at China’s draconian “One Child” policy. USA Today posted a powerful story this afternoon that carefully details what happened to Feng and the over one million angry responses on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, that ensued. Calum MacLeod reports that
“The scandal erupted when photos were posted online showing mother Feng Jianmei lying on a hospital bed with the corpse of her daughter. Feng, who was in her seventh month of pregnancy, said she was dragged into a vehicle, her head covered and her legs beaten, then taken to a hospital for the injections that killed and induced delivery of her unborn child.
“Feng said she was forced to have an abortion because she could not pay the $6,300 fine for a second child.
“In years past, Feng’s forced abortion would have happened with little public reaction. But Internet-based social media tools allow individual Chinese to take their stories directly to the people and are forcing the government to address complaints.”
The outcry over Feng initially netted only a perfunctory response posted Monday on the government website of Zhenping county, Shaanxi province. It said that officials, “according to the law, carried out the termination of the out-of-policy second pregnancy of Feng Jianmei” on June 2.
As resistance mounted, a preliminary investigation was conducted. On Thursday the Shaanxi Population and Family Planning Commission issued a second statement, according to MacLeod, which read, “The late-term abortion was a ‘serious violation’ of national policies, ‘damaged the image of family planning work and caused extremely harmful social impact.’”
The China News Service reported that three officials have been suspended. Amazingly, “The city mayor delivered $785 as compensation for the loss to Feng’s husband, Deng Jiyuan,” MacLeod reported.
“I am not satisfied with the result,” Deng told USA Today. “I want the real killer responsible to be punished.”
Deng, a 29-year-old farmer, talked with CNN by phone. “I’m angry and want justice,” Deng Jiyuan told the cable network. “They forced her to abort our seven-month-old child — do they deserve to be called Communist Party officials who served the people?”
Deng told CNN he tried up until the last minute to secure a birth permit “but could not afford to pay the fine of 40,000 yuan ($6,300) demanded by the officials. He added that his wife remained traumatized in hospital.”
Deng also told CNN that said village leaders who had shown up asked the family “not to hype the incident.”
This righteous indignation over the forced abortion of a child in his/her seventh month comes just a few weeks after Chen’s daring escape from house arrest, a brief stay at the American Embassy in Beijing, and a nerve wracking stint at a nearby hospital before he and his family were allowed to fly to the United States.
During the time Chen’s fate was uncertain, Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, testified before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China at a hearing held by Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ), She was asked two questions, beginning with “What is the underlying issue that got Chen Guangcheng detained?”
She pointed out that much of the mainstream media had left out “why is there such intense persecution, what is it that set off the Chinese Communist Government party against Chen Guangcheng?” And the answer Littlejohn gave was, “The fact that he was the one person in China who dared to stand up against the One Child Policy.”
Just prior to testifying, Littlejohn wrote, “…Chen is hugely symbolic in China, the conscience of the nation. By challenging the One Child Policy, he has challenged the lynchpin of social control in China. This explains the ferocity of the Chinese Communist Party’s reaction to him.”
Littlejohn told CNN today, “No legitimate government would commit or tolerate such an act,” adding, “We call on the United States government and leaders of the free world to strongly condemn forced abortion and all coercive family planning in China.”
Editor’s note. There is still time to register for the National Right to Life convention June 28 -30 and to reserve a hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Just go to www.nrlconvention.org.