By Dave Andrusko
When even the New York Times publishes stories with headlines like “Reports of Forced Abortions Fuel Push to End Chinese Law,” you know something is afoot. Edward Wong, writing in Sunday’s Times, brings home a reality that I suspect few New York Times readers had ever considered: that forced abortions in the 7th and 8th month are not an aberration, but part and parcel of China’s repulsive “One-Child Policy,” which is built around forced abortion and coerced sterilizations.
The informational dam broke, so to speak, with Feng Jianmei. Mrs. Feng and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, who have one child, were unable to pay the $6,300 fine when she became pregnant with a second child. In late May Mrs. Feng was snatched off the street, held by local officials in northwestern Shaanxi Province for three days, blindfolded, and coerced her to consent to the abortion. ”Even with the supposed consent, it took five men to hold her down and administer the drug that induced the 48-hour labor,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). “The injection was given directly to the child’s head.”
Since that time, thanks to photos posted by Mr. Deng on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, local authorities have apologized and a debate has begun about the wisdom of a policy that is not only ethically corrupt but (according to many who have no opinion on forced abortion) is hurting the country.
Mr. Wong’s story (which can be read at www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/world/asia/pressure-to-repeal-chinas-one-child-law-is-growing.html?_r=1) begins Pan Chunyan who was almost eight months pregnant with her third child when she was locked up with two other women, taken to a hospital and
“forced her to put her thumbprint on a document saying she had agreed to an abortion. A nurse injected her with a drug.
“’After I got the shot, all the thugs disappeared,” Ms. Pan, 31, said in a telephone interview from her home in the southeastern province of Fujian. ‘My family was with me again. I cried and hoped the baby would survive.’
“But after hours of labor, the baby was born dead on April 8, ‘black and blue all over,’ Ms. Pan said.”
But the bulk of Wong’s article is how, having thrust the issue of forced abortion into the spotlight, these hideous human rights violations have ignited an outcry to repeal or fundamental alter the policy that so penalizes families for having more than one child. The key is that this human rights issue is being buttressed by pressure coming from other fronts “as economists say that China’s aging population and dwindling pool of young, cheap labor will be a significant factor in slowing the nation’s economic growth rate.”
Those are the reasons for optimism. The ending of Wong’s story, however, explains why there are reasons to be less hopeful. For example, local authorities forced the abortion even though the couple paid the “fine.”
In addition, Mrs. Pan’s husband had traveled to Beijing to seek advice how to file a lawsuit. “But in the last week, neither he nor Ms. Pan have answered their cellphones, raising suspicions that officials from Daji may have intimidated them,” Wong writes.
“As for the future, she said she and her husband did not plan to try having another child again. ‘We both feel like we almost died,’ Ms. Pan said, ‘or lost half of our lives.’”
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