Guest Column

Hillary Clinton got it wrong on forced abortion in China

(Women’s Rights Without Frontiers) In the Presidential debate against Donald Trump last night, Hillary Clinton made the following statement:  I’ve been to countries where governments either forced women to have abortions, like they used to do in China . . . (emphasis added).

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, stated, “With all her experience as former Secretary of State, it is untrue and deeply disappointing for Hillary Clinton to put the Chinese government’s practice of forced abortion in the past. If she thinks that China no longer forces women to abort babies, she should explain that to a couple, surnamed Zhong, who in August of this year were forced to choose between an abortion at eight months or the loss of both of their government jobs. Or she should inform He Liping, who was forced either to pay an impossible “terror fine” of $39,000 or face abortion at six months.

“Or perhaps she should read the May 4, 2016, BBC article entitled ‘Reinventing China’s Abortion Police,’ which discusses a small collaborative project by Stanford University and Shaanxi Normal University to repurpose 69 Family Planning Officials — apparently on the assumption that they are no longer needed now that China has moved to a two-child policy.” The article follows one Family Planning Official, Li Bo, who has been “reinvented” from “hunt[ing] down families suspected of violating the country’s draconian rules on how many children couples can have” into a rubber duckie squeezing, nursery rhyme singing “Chinese Father Christmas,” complete with “a bag full of toys and picture books.”

Has his job really been “reinvented,” or is he really a member of the womb police, masquerading as “Chinese Father Christmas” — the new face of China’s Family Planning Police? Buried deep in the article is the following account of the dark side of Li Bo’s job – an important piece of original reporting by the BBC:

Since the start of 2016, all Chinese couples have been allowed two children. But they can have no more than that unless they are from ethnic minorities – so Li Bo still spends some of his time working as a birth-control enforcer. In the town’s health clinic he is busy screening local women. All women of childbearing age have check-ups four times a year to ensure they’re healthy . . . and to see if they are pregnant. . . But Li is also a loyal Communist party official who believes the state knows best and society’s needs are greater than those of individuals. So he is matter-of-fact about the unpleasant task of telling women who couldn’t afford the fine to terminate their pregnancies. “People didn’t swear at us but they probably did behind our backs,” he says. “It’s natural because we were carrying out the law and they were breaking it so it is just like the clash between a policeman and a thief.” He adds that as long as restrictions are in place, such clashes will continue.

From these words, uttered by a Chinese Communist Family Planning Official, we learn that:

  • Coercive pregnancy screening continues. Under the Two-Child Policy, Family Planning Police continue to screen women of child-bearing age for pregnancy four times a year.
  • Forced abortion continues. It is still illegal for single women to have babies in China, and for couples to have third children. It appears that some may be given an opportunity to pay a fine, but Li Bo tells “those who couldn’t afford the fine to terminate their pregnancies.” In other words, if a woman is illegally pregnant and cannot pay the fine – which can be as much as ten times her annual salary – she is forced to abort. Forced abortion, therefore, continues under the Two-Child Policy.
  • Women pregnant without permission are considered criminals. Li Bo’s statement that women who are pregnant without permission “were breaking it [the law] so it is just like the clash between a policeman and a thief” demonstrates that such pregnancies are still considered illegal; and illegally pregnant women are regarded lawbreakers deserving of punishment, just like thieves.
  • Forced abortion continues to cause unrest. Li Bo is correct in adding that “as long as restrictions are in place, such clashes will continue.” This statement is an admission that these clashes – often resulting in forced abortion – continue to this day, due to the two-child restrictions.

Littlejohn concluded: “The Chinese Communist Party has not agreed to get out of the bedrooms of the Chinese people, and Presidential candidates should not be stating or implying that they have. We need to keep the international pressure on the Chinese Communist Party until all coercive population control is eradicated.”

Editor’s Note: This article was originally printed by Women’s Rights Without Frontiers on October 20, 2016, and is reprinted here with permission.

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