The United States has been studying “birth defects and other reproductive and developmental outcomes” by cooperating with those charged with implementing China’s controversial eugenics program – which has been linked to its brutal one-child policy. On Feb. 14, 2002, two congressional researchers stumbled on a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of $1,000,000 for Peking University Health Science Center through our Centers for Disease Control.
This award is part of a little known program that has been under way some 10 years. During that time, we have sent one or more of our scientists to the People’s Republic of China to study “the promotion of optimal birth outcomes” at the National Center for Maternal and Infant Heath.
At this time, China is the only country in the world to officially promote eugenics: the improvement of a race by controlled selective breeding. After Hitler’s attempt to create a “pure” line of Germans with the Nazi death camps and euthanasia centers, the practice was roundly condemned by all civilized societies.
However, China now has a Eugenics Society, which is dominated by high Communist Party officials. In 1995, two years after this CDC study was begun, the government imposed the Maternal and Child Health Law on its populace. Prospective brides and grooms must register for marriage and undergo rigorous physical examinations to determine their “fitness” for procreation. If a mental or physical disability is discovered, the couple may not be allowed to get married at all. Others are “encouraged” to be sterilized or to abort any pregnancy that may occur.
Bear in mind, in a totalitarian society the word “encourage” is open to interpretation. Pregnancies are closely monitored and if a defect of any kind is found the couple is “advised” to terminate. An application to terminate must be signed by the mother, but if the state says to sign, she will sign.
China is a brutal country with little or no regard for human life. Population Research Institute President Steven W. Mosher, who in 1979 was the first American social scientist to live in rural China, observed “first-hand” how the country was enforcing the one-child policy. It is a country where many female children simply have vanished and are presumed to have been abandoned or helped to die. Children born with abnormalities have suffered similar fates.
If you do not cooperate with the state, then the state can prevent you from “planning” another pregnancy. Mosher is one of the most outspoken critics of the government’s eugenics program and says that breeding a better Chinese man and woman has been an integral part of the one-child policy from the beginning, comparing it to the genocidal program attempted by the Nazis. PRI says that ethnic minorities are a particular target. “Han geneticists claim that they find higher rates of ‘cretins,’ ‘idiots,’ and ‘imbeciles’ among minority populations like the Tibetans, and sterilize them in large numbers on eugenics grounds.”
Western geneticists have been divided over how to handle the Chinese eugenics program. Many favor ostracism. Others maintain that scientific exchanges with China can encourage the country to abandon its coercive and racist practices.
The advantages of doing genetic research in China are undeniable. It’s a perfectly controlled laboratory. The announcement in the Federal Register states: “China has a large, stable, and relatively homogeneous population, registration for marriage is required, and virtually all pregnancies are planned. Women who may be eligible to participate in clinical trials or other birth defects prevention programs can therefore be identified early, at the time of registration for marriage.”
What the CDC doesn’t say, however, speaks volumes: The women used in these studies are tools of the state. They are not free to voice their dissent and there is no such thing as a “voluntary” subject in a totalitarian society.
During the time of Hitler, it would have been easier for our scientists to conduct medical experiments at the concentration camps in Germany than it was here in this country, but it would have been wrong.
Likewise, it is wrong to fund any program in China that benefits directly or indirectly its brutal one-child policy. The Feb. 14 announcement states that this award “will begin on or about June 3, 2002, and will be made for a 12-month budget period within a project period of up to five years.”
President Bush was right to put a hold on the $34 million slated for the United Nations Population Fund because of its involvement in China’s coercive population control program. Now, he should be urged to end our cooperation with this research program.
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