Forced abortion in China

I heard this incredibly sad and disturbing story on NPR this morning about a recent spate of forced abortions in southwest China. The descriptions of women being packed into a hospital, with some forced to undergo abortions in the 7th month, was heart-wrenching.
But I found it equally upsetting that NPR referred to the perpetrators as Chinese “family planning” officials. I’m sorry, but “family planning” is about empowering women and couples to decide and plan for the number of children they want to have. It is NOT about the government deciding an appropriate number of children per family and forcing women to comply. What’s happening in China is “coercive family planning.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Bush has used the fact that the Chinese government commits these crimes against women as justification for defunding the United Nations Population Fund, hampering its ability to help women and couples truly plan their families in countries around the world. (I recall a passage in Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican War on Science, that thoroughly debunked the allegations that the UNFPA supported the Chinese government’s “one child” policy. But now I can’t find the book…)
Bottom line? Despite what U.S. anti-choicers say, no one who is pro-choice is pro-forced abortion. We are against government intervention in personal reproductive decisions — whether it be by the U.S. Congress in banning abortion or by the Chinese government in forcing it.

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23 Comments

  1. Posted April 23, 2007 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely. It’s pro-choice. A choice. After all, how many women go on to have children after an abortion? And they do it out of choice.

  2. Posted April 23, 2007 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    How horrible. Stories of forced abortion are just as upsetting to me as those of women being denied a safe and legal abortion. No woman should have to go through either of those things.

  3. EG
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the language hinges on who gets to do the planning. Certainly there is family planning afoot in the horrible violations of these women. Their families are being planned by a cruel, despotic regime with no respect for human rights.

  4. Wildstarryskies
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Women own their bodies. They decide what to do with it. They are not obligated to make choices they are not comfortable with. It may not necessarily be a good choice, which is why we should always focus on giving women the tools and resources they need to make a better choice.
    But no, it always goes back to “YOUR UTERUS ARE BELONG TO US”.
    *sigh*

  5. Mina
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    “Absolutely. It’s pro-choice. A choice. After all, how many women go on to have children after an abortion?”
    …and don’t forget how many go on to have an abortion after children.
    “How horrible. Stories of forced abortion are just as upsetting to me as those of women being denied a safe and legal abortion. No woman should have to go through either of those things.”
    I totally agree.

  6. Posted April 23, 2007 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes. I went to a Democratic Women’s Caucus once where the director of Planned Parenthood: Texas spoke, as a woman who had to seek illegal abortion after having five children. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, which goes to show how important the autonomy of our bodies is to us. We can all sympathize as to what it would feel like to have the power over your own body taken away.

  7. Sylke
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Don’t anti-choicers realize that when the supreme court grants itself authority to ban medical procedures, it also grants itself the authority to enforce medical procedures, as is the instance in forced c-sections? With Republicans cutting funding to health care for mothers and babies, cutting funding for (real) sex education and birth control, as well as welfare, is it illogical that forced abortions are not all that far behind? It’s not like we can possibly sustain ourselves with all these contrary restrictions.

  8. Posted April 23, 2007 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Do you also wonder about how reporters have decided to describe the abortion decision this week? Some seem to use words like “crushed” when referring to what happens to the fetus after its aborted. As Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out in her dissent, the justices even used loaded language in their opinion when describing a scientific procedure.
    aah, the power of words…

  9. annajcook
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Don’t anti-choicers realize that when the supreme court grants itself authority to ban medical procedures, it also grants itself the authority to enforce medical procedures, as is the instance in forced c-sections?
    I am still trying to recover from reading the paragraph in Lynn Platrow’s piece, “Miscarriage of Justice” in which she describes a case here in the U.S. where a woman in active labor was removed from her home and forced to undergo a c-section, and the federal court that heard the case ruled against her. This stuff, almost more than the abortion restrictions, are what really freak me out. Imagining a world where I would have to abstain from sex in order to ensure I didn’t have to undergo a forced pregnancy is awful enough. Picturing a world in which, once I chose to become pregnant, my decisions about medical care as a woman–and as a parent–would be taken out of my hands is absolutely terrifying.
    My heart goes out to all women (and their partners) around the world who are denied access to true family planning resources, and granted the freedom to make use of them. I, too, remember reading in Chris Mooney’s book about the false accusations about the UNFPA. The double-talk of the Bush administration (no abortions, but we won’t fund pre-pregnancy options either) is incredibly infuriating, and the fact that our politicians have the clout to take that agenda worldwide is sickening.

  10. Pickleberry
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I heard the story this morning too…made me late for class, I couldn’t get out of my car.
    Ugh.

  11. oenophile
    Posted April 23, 2007 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Anna,
    When the federal court ruled against her, was it a judge or a jury? Do we need to appoint better judges or work on our entire culture?
    The scary thing is that the doctors who try to force the women into C-sections are often wrong.

  12. Posted April 23, 2007 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    While I agree with Ann (and many of the people who have commented) about wimmin needing to have control over their bodies, I think the way that the US government and media characterize China only serves to further an “us v. them” mentality. I have traveled to China and spoken to many young wimmin about the One Child Policy, and they told me that the government does make exceptions. What the US media doesn’t tell us is that since the Bush Administration defunded the UNFPA, forced abortions in China have actually increased. But prior to that, the abortion rate was going down in China because they were able to use UNFPA monies to provide wimmin with different options.
    We should all be cautious about making sweeping generalizations about other countries in this era of “you’re either with us or against us.”

  13. Posted April 23, 2007 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    While I agree with Ann (and many of the people who have commented) about wimmin needing to have control over their bodies, I think the way that the US government and media characterize China only serves to further an “us v. them” mentality. I have traveled to China and spoken to many young wimmin about the One Child Policy, and they told me that the government does make exceptions. What the US media doesn’t tell us is that since the Bush Administration defunded the UNFPA, forced abortions in China have actually increased. But prior to that, the abortion rate was going down in China because they were able to use UNFPA monies to provide wimmin with different options.
    We should all be cautious about making sweeping generalizations about other countries in this era of “you’re either with us or against us.”

  14. UltraMagnus
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    “We were very surprised to hear of these accusations,” Nong said, “but our investigation concluded some individuals who were dissatisfied with our family planning policies were fabricating stories. These facts simply don’t exist. We really love and care for women here.
    This truly gave me a chill. I think it is sad that they waited so long to capture these women and force them into abortions. Aside from the one child policy, however, how is China aiding with their non forced family planning? Do they give out free birth control?

  15. oenophile
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Ultra, it is my understanding that women in China are often fitted with IUDs (and often against their will).
    Forced abortions aside, many families elect to abort girl fetuses in hope of getting their one child to be a boy. Of course, they are starting to realise that 1) there aren’t enough women to go around (I think that Jessica did a post about ghost brides a while back); 2) parents, who typically live with their daughters in old age, will not have that option; and 3) a country full of young, single men is usually a recipe for disaster.

  16. Mina
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    “3) a country full of young, single men is usually a recipe for disaster”
    Isn’t that only if one counts domestic violence a non-disaster?
    I got the impression that having more single men in a society just means the violent ones are more likely to beat up someone else because they’re less likely to have wives and children to beat up.

  17. micheyd
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    oenophile:
    I believe that the policy has changed somewhat, that they allow you to have 2 children if the first is a girl. The policy is also pretty loosely defined in some areas, but comes down hardest on the urban population, which they want to control the most.

  18. annajcook
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    When the federal court ruled against her, was it a judge or a jury?
    Sorry, oenophile, but the article didn’t specify. I was wishing last night that she had included the name of the case, so that I could look it up and get a better understanding about the circumstance.
    In answer to your second (perhaps rhetorical) question: BOTH! I think we need more judges who are pro-feminist in their judicial philosophy, and we also need to work on creating a culture that has a truly holistic approach to supporting families, family planning, and patient rights/advocacy.

  19. Unree
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    It’s always a judge, never a jury, that exercises this power. Jury selection-and-seating is slow and these proceedings (typically initiated by a hospital) have to be done quickly. Horrible either way, but I guess bad tendencies in the judiciary might be easier to correct.

  20. Posted April 24, 2007 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I think y’all are talking about the Angela Carder case. It was originally decided by a judge, then held up on appeal by a three-judge panel. I’ve put the wikipedia article as my name link – it’s a good case to read up on.

  21. Posted April 24, 2007 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I met a man a couple of years ago who works with immigrants waiting for the okay to become Canadian citizen. He said that forced abortion has been going on in China for years, and that there are always cases before the government involving pregnant women from China seeking refugee status for that reason. It’s unconscionable.

  22. crella
    Posted April 25, 2007 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    What do they do with the fetus? At 7 months the fetus is fully formed and viable…

  23. AlaraJRogers
    Posted April 25, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I think y’all are talking about the Angela Carder case.
    No, although that’s pertinent. I can’t find the reference (Ok, I didn’t look), but it was about a conservative pro-lifer named Rebecca something who didn’t want to have a c-section for religious reasons, and WHILE SHE WAS IN LABOR, the hospital got the government to intervene, kidnap her, strap her down, and forcibly cut her open, because the doctors thought she needed a c-section or the baby would die. She was apparently about 90% dilated at the time — going to give birth any minute.
    It was referenced in a discussion, I think at Pandagon, about a women’s rights conference where one of the posters talked about how we can reach out to the pro-lifers by talking, not just about abortion, but about control over our own bodies through all aspects of pregnancy, and how this woman had turned out to be sympathetic to us once she saw the connection between what had happened to her, and the anti-abortion laws.
    (I also recall a case where a woman was prosecuted for murder because she refused a scheduled c-section, came in eight days later, and one of her twins was stillborn… where there was no guarantee that the early c-section would have saved the child’s life anyway.)

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