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China’s Dehumanizing Abortion Policies

As President Obama made his first official visit to China, new information on China’s “one-child policy” surfaced in the media.

In an article published last week, The Washington Post revealed that “monetary incentives and penalties are attached to population targets,” creating what amounts to “bounties on the unborn,” according to a 2009 State Department report. Technically, it is illegal in China to kill a baby, but family- planning imperatives sometimes prevail. Unfortunately, according to the same source, as recently as July, China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the one-child policy “will be strictly enforced as a means of controlling births for decades to come”.

While Chinese officials insist that abortions are voluntary under the one-child policy, the Post‘s article informs about recent electronic documentation that shows coerced abortions and involuntary sterilizations are still commonplace in China.

The consequences of these violent and dehumanizing policies are many. Besides killing millions of children, abortions, especially late term abortions, claim the lives of the mothers as well, as evidenced by reports from China. What’s more, about 500 women a day commit suicide there. This is the highest rate in the world and it is attributed in part to coercive family planning.

Rep. Chris Smith, a long time champion of Chinese human rights and Chairman of the House Human Rights Committee, also pointed out the atrocious harms to Chinese women, exclaiming that “China’s coercive population control program has imposed unspeakable violence, pain and humiliation on hundreds of millions of Chinese women, many of whom suffer lifelong depression as a consequence.”

Furthermore, China has used abortion for sex-selective purposes because of a traditional (cultural) preference for boys. This has resulted in a tremendous gender imbalance with Chinese men outnumbering Chinese women by 37 million.  In this regard, Smith stated, “As a direct result of the government’s one-child policy, tens of millions of girls are missing today: The lost girls of China is a gendercide.”

While the Post rightfully asserts that “[a]verting our gaze from China’s horrific abuse of women is [a choice],” they neglect to mention the U.S.’s involvement in supporting China’s coercive family planning policies (including coerced abortions and forced sterilizations) is also a “choice.”  The Fiscal Year 2009 omnibus spending bill passed by the House this past March created an exception to allow unrestricted funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) including their operations in countries (such as China) that force women to abort or to be sterilized.  In approving the spending, 55 U.S. Senators voted to reject Senator Roger Wicker’s attempt to protect U.S. taxpayers from funding coercive abortions through the UNFPA.

In light of President Obama’s emphasis on human rights while in China this week, the U.S. should strongly consider withdrawing U.S. taxpayers’ money from operations funding these dehumanizing policies in China.

Americans United for Life experts have created comprehensive model legislation and policy guides to address these issues. For a copy of the 2010 Coerced Abortions Legislative Guide, please click here.  For the 2010 Legislative Guide on Sex Selective and Genetic Abnormality, please click here.