Thursday, October 23, 2008

Three stories of forced abortion in China

This is Mao Hengfeng. In 1988 Mao, a mother of twins, lost her job in a Shanghai soap factory when she became pregnant with her third child. She refused to have an abortion and was detained in a psychiatric hospital where she was forcibly injected with a variety of drugs. Nonetheless she managed to continue her pregnancy and gave birth prematurely to a daughter. Mao appealed her job dismissal under China's Labor Law, and was reinstated. However, the factory where she worked appealed the ruling. Mao was seven months pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the appeal hearing, when the judge reportedly told her that if she terminated this pregnancy, he would rule in her favor. Concerned for the welfare of her existing family, Mao terminated her pregnancy against her wishes, but still the court ruled against her.
Mao has repeatedly petitioned the authorities for being unfairly sacked, forced to have an abortion and denied the right to freedom of expression. During that time she has been repeatedly detained in prisons and psychiatric units. In 2004 she was sent to a Re-education Through Labour (RTL) camp, where she was reportedly tied up, suspended from the ceiling and severely beaten. She was released in September 2005 but since then has been beaten up by the police, detained and then released and this September once again placed under house arrest after she tried to get to a UN representative's office in Beijing to protest at her abuses.

In 2000 Yin Lani was nine months pregnant with her first child. Her waters had already broken. But she'd conceived five months before getting married and in China that's against the law. Family planning officials took her to a clinic where she was injected with a large syringe. Her husband arrived in time to see the dead foetus being removed from her with forceps two days later. Yin lost a lot of blood and was in hospital for 44 days. Her husband was later charged for the medicine she needed. He said his wife was rendered infertile by the abortion. Last year in a legal first, Yin sued the family planning agency. The case didn't get anywhere but last October the People's Regional Court did agree to hear the couple's appeal. It's scant comfort. "Our baby will never come back," Mrs Jin said.
Last April Wei Linrong was seven months pregnant with her second child, when 10 family planning officials paid her a visit. Her husband, Liang Yage takes up the story:

"You don't have any more room for manoeuvre," he says they told her. "If you don't go [to the hospital], we'll carry you."

Wei and Liang were then driven to Youjiang district maternity hospital in Baise city.

"I was scared," Wei said. "The hospital was full of women who'd been brought in forcibly. There wasn't a single spare bed. The family planning people said forced abortions and forced sterilizations were both being carried out. We saw women being pulled in one by one."

The couple were given a consent agreement to sign. When Liang refused, family planning officials signed it for him. He and his wife are devout Christians — he is a pastor — and they don't agree with abortion. The officials gave Wei three injections in the lower abdomen. Contractions started the next afternoon, and continued for almost 16 hours. Her child was stillborn.

"I asked the doctor if it was a boy or girl," Wei said. "The doctor said it was a boy. My friends who were beside me said the baby's body was completely black. I felt desolate, so I didn't look up to see the baby."
Medical sources say fetuses aborted in this manner would have been dead for some time, so the tissue is necrotic and thus dark in color.
"The nurses dealt with the body like it was rubbish," Wei said. "They wrapped it up in a black plastic bag and threw it in the trash."

There are numerous reports of forced abortion up to eight or nine months gestation in China, where the one-child policy continues and continues to be enforced with brutality.

Last summer, it sparked riots in South West China when thousands of villagers attacked family planning officials, overturned cars and set fire to government buildings in the wake of a crackdown by the Bombai county government against families who break birth control regulations.

Ordinary Chinese people are growing increasingly bold, risking fines, imprisonment and torture by their public resistance to this grotesque policy.

On Thursday some 20 British MEPs sold Mao, Yin, Wei, the rioting villagers and countless Chinese men and women down the river, when they voted against Amendment 134 which would have blocked the EU from funding population control programs which as in China involve forced abortion and sterilisation.

Shame on them.


Blogger Oli said...

What is clear is that the EU has funded programmes in China.

China is known to have abuses in the area of coercive abortion and forced sterilisation.

How can a woman volunteer if she has no choice?

10/27/2008 8:41 AM  
Blogger voltaires said...

And what would you do Oli? Cut off all aid to all countries that have any bad record in any area of human rights? It would certainly save on the overseas aid budget, although I doubt whether the poor in those countries would thank you for the gesture...

10/29/2008 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Oli said...

You are right- these things are very complex!

Funds are always limited, which means that decisions always have to be made as to the priorities, which is where value judgments come in.

As you say, many developed countries have poor human rights records, and also high levels of corruption. But it can be identified which areas are most liable to abuse. This has surely proved itself to be one.

Funding agricultural (or general) education is perhaps less likely to generate human rights abuses, as would primary health care or infrastructure development- 1/3 of the world's people still do not have sanitation...

11/04/2008 1:55 AM  
Blogger DIC PENDERYN said...

who were the 20 British meps who voted against the amendment 134?
how can I find out who they were myself?

7/25/2009 4:11 AM  

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