By Sarah Terzo
Chi An is a Chinese women who took part in enforcing the “one child” policy in China. Now she recalls how women pregnant with “illegal” children were treated:
“A positive pregnancy test spelled trouble for a woman with a child. The representative would take the young woman aside for a series of “heart-to-heart” chats. “Have an abortion immediately,” she would be told, “and you will receive a cash bonus and a week off work.” If the woman did not respond to these inducements within the next few days, the carrot would be replaced by a stick. The woman would be told that she would not be allowed to enter her illegal child’s name on the factory’s population registers after birth, so that her child would have no medical benefits, no grain rations, no opportunity to attend school, and no chance of factory employment in the future. “For the good of your fatherland, your factory, and your family,” she would be urged, “you must “think clear” about abortion.”
If the woman resisted her representative’s warnings, activists from the Women’s Federation and the [Communist] Party would step in and lend a hand. The daily chats would take on the character of struggle sessions, as the pregnant woman was attacked for her stubbornness by several activists in turn. There are heavy financial penalties for “illegal” second birth, she would be told. If she continue to resist, she would not only lose her annual bonus, but she would have to pay a heavy fine as well. The meetings also spilled over from work to home, as groups of activists visited the woman each night in her apartment. Husbands and mothers-in-law, who were often opposed to the idea of an abortion, would be required to attend these talks. “Do you want China to be backward and impoverished forever?” They would be asked. “Your individual whims in childbearing must be subject to the interest of society as a whole.”
If the woman and her family still stood their ground, the pressure would be turned up a notch. The senior leadership of the Women’s Federation and the factory Party organization would enter the fray, determined to break their will to resist. As many as a dozen officials might impose themselves on her and her family at all hours of the day and night, hectoring, blustering, threatening dire consequences. If she still insisted on having an illegal child, the local party chief would join as well. She would then hear, for the first time, the ultimate threat in China’s social welfare state: “You will lose your job if you continue to resist remedial measures.”
Stephen W. Mosher, A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight against China’s One Child Policy (Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1993), pp. 264 – 26.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Clinic Quotes and is reposted with permission.