By Women’s Rights Without Frontiers
Another courageous article from Shanghai online news portal Sixth Tone describes the continued desperation of re-married women in Guangdong.
Six months pregnant, Anxiang and her husband were forced to choose between aborting her pregnancy or losing their government jobs, because they had violated China’s new Two-Child Policy. They had thought that they were allowed to have another child, but were caught in an omission regarding remarried women in Guangdong Province. At the end of July, they were told to abort, or face fines and dismissal.
Because it was too late in the pregnancy to abort via medication or suction, Anxiang (not her real name) had to abort via induction. On August 1, she had an injection to terminate her daughter.
Two days later, she was induced and went through labor in order to deliver the still-born child.
The next day she sent a heartbreaking message to the WeChat group of remarried couples in Guangdong. “I saw my daughter. She didn’t move. She was dead.”
“Our hearts go out to Anxiang and her husband, said Reggie Littlejohn, President. “Although Anxiang was not physically dragged out of her home for an abortion, this abortion was nevertheless coerced. You can force someone through physical coercion or financial coercion. Any abortion against the will of the mother is forced. The fact that her pregnancy would have been allowed in other provinces but not in Guangdong is further evidence of the lack of uniformity in the enforcement of China’s population control policies. It is the tyranny of the arbitrary.”
Another member of the WeChat group, Lin Jing, was devastated when she read Anxiang’s message. She told Sixth Tone, “I was frightened to see that one mother aborted her pregnancy under the pressure, knowing that others might follow.”
Lin’s husband brought a child into their marriage. It was his second marriage and her first. They soon had a daughter of their own.
When the Chinese Communist Party announced the Two-Child Policy, it never occurred to her that she and her husband might be excluded under the laws of Guangdong, because this would be his third child. She learned she was pregnant in January, 2016.
“I am 38 years old and my husband is 48 years old. It could be our last chance,” she said. Since she does not know whether her pregnancy is legal, she is not eligible for insurance coverage, pregnancy leave or prenatal care.
She hid the pregnancy for as long as she could, traveling hours for checkups in a distant city, wearing heels to her job as a schoolteacher instead of flats. She is grateful to have the summer off but dreads returning to school in September, during her third trimester.
Trying to gain clarity on whether their pregnancies are legal, she and other members of the WeChat group for remarried pregnant women converged on the Guangdong provincial government offices with a petition to legalize their pregnancies. Their petition was denied.
In tears, Lin told Sixth Tone, “They told us we deliberately broke the law. They thought we’d just come to make trouble.”
Lin does not know how her employer will react in September, but she remains at risk. She stated, “No policy has come out on paper. We still don’t have the protection of law.”
“Pregnancy is natural and innocent,” Littlejohn said. “That the Chinese Communist Party would treat pregnant women as criminals and tell them they ‘deliberately broke the law’ by becoming pregnant is madness.”
A third woman in the WeChat group, Su, and her husband were required by their employer to sign a statement that they would terminate her pregnancy if the Guangdong government had not released a statement by the end of July. Because of media pressure, the Guangdong government released a statement on August 2. Su was allowed to keep her baby. But Guangdong has not yet adopted a clear law allowing married couples to have two children, even if the second child in the marriage would be the third child of one or both of the spouses.
“We are grateful that Su was allowed to keep her baby,” Littlejohn continued. But
“We continue to condemn the Chinese government’s iron grip over women’s wombs, playing God, declaring life or death over desperately wanted babies. Su’s case shows that employers are also at fault in pressuring women to abort or lose their jobs. It also demonstrates the power of the media to effectuate positive change. The courageous, investigative reporting by Sixth Tone is all the more remarkable because it is a state-controlled media outlet. I believe they are representative of a growing dissatisfaction within the Chinese government with a policy that has long out-lasted it utility and stands as a brutal symbol of the failure of Communism to protect the rights of the people.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.