A number of mothers-to-be have been told by a regional Chinese government that their pregnancies “deliberately broke the law,” despite the repressive nation’s boasts earlier this year that it had dropped its one-child policy.
It’s because these women are part of blended families or have remarried or have husbands who previously were married.
Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, recently filed a complaint against China with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women over the issue.
She explained in the complaint that nothing has changed since China move from a one-child to a two-child policy, because Chinese leaders still are imposing mandatory abortions and crippling fines.
“Coercion is the core of the policy. Instituting a two-child policy will not end forced abortion or force sterilization. As blind activist Chen Guangcheng succinctly tweeted: ‘This is nothing to be happy about. First the #CCP would kill any baby after one. Now they will kill any baby after two. #ChinaOneChildPolicy,” she wrote in the complaint.
Her Women’s Rights Without Frontiers group long has fought China’s practices of forced killing, explaining the real “war on women” is being fought where forced abortion is triggering surges in suicide, breast cancer, an imbalance between men and women in society and a young population that is too small to sustain its senior citizens.
Now she’s citing testimony from a “WeChat” group of pregnant, remarried women in China.
They recently presented a petition at provincial offices in the city of Guangzhou requesting their pregnancies be legalized.
One member of the group, Lin Jing, described how officials rejected their request.
“They told us we deliberately broke the law. They thought we’d just come to make trouble,” she said.
Caught by the government’s intolerance for an additional child are couples who remarry after a divorce or the death of a spouse.
A woman identified only as Anxiang and her husband were in such a situation.
They thought they were allowed another child, but soon found out the government had other plans.
They were told to abort the child or lose their jobs.
“Because it was too late in the pregnancy to abort via medication or suction, Anxiang (not her real name) had to abort via inductions,” Littlejohn reported. “On Aug. 1, she had an injection to terminate her daughter. Two days later, she was induced and went through labor in order to deliver the still-born child. The next day she sent a heartbreaking message to the WeChat group of remarried couples … ‘I saw my daughter. She didn’t move. She was dead.'”
Littlejohn said: “Our hearts go out to Anxiang and her husband. Although Anxiang was not physically dragged out of her home for an abortion, this abortion was nevertheless coerced. You can force someone through physical coercion or financial coercion. Any abortion against the will of the mother is forced. The fact that her pregnancy would have been allowed in other provinces but not in Guangdong is further evidence of the lack of uniformity in the enforcement of China’s population control policies. It is the tyranny of the arbitrary.”
The threats by government officials also left her horrified.
“Pregnancy is natural and innocent. That the Chinese Communist Party would treat pregnant women as criminals and tell them they ‘deliberately broke the law’ by becoming pregnant is madness,” Littlejohn said.
She reported a third woman in the WeChat group, Su, had prepared to terminate her pregnancy at seven months at the end of July. She and her husband were forced by their employer to sign a statement that they would terminate her pregnancy if the Guangdong government had not released a statement by the end of July. Because of media pressure, the Guangdong government released a statement August 2. Su was allowed to keep her baby, but Guangdong has not yet adopted a clear law allowing married couples to have two children, even if the second child in the marriage would be the third child of one or both of the spouses.
“We are grateful that Su was allowed to keep her baby,” Littlejohn continued. “We continue to condemn the Chinese government’s iron grip over women’s wombs, playing God, declaring life or death over desperately wanted babies. Su’s case shows that employers are also at fault in pressuring women to abort or lose their jobs.”
The previous WRWF complaint at the U.N. noted that Chinese leaders decided to start allowing families to have a second child because the demographic trends revealed a looming disaster for the country.
“It’s an enormous, long-term battle, but together, we can end forced abortion and gendercide and sweep these atrocities into the dung-heap of history, where they belong,” Littlejohn said at the time.
Her organization runs several campaigns to counter the massive assault on women that often is sanctioned and sponsored by governments around the world.
The new complaint noted that the Chinese government made the official change from a one-child to two-child policy on Jan. 1, 2016. But WRWF said “characterizing this latest modification as ‘abandoning’ the one child policy is misleading.”
“A two child policy will not end any of the human rights abuses caused by the one child policy, including forced abortion, involuntary sterilization or the sex-selective abortion of baby girls.
“Sending out the message that China has ‘abandoned’ its one child policy is detrimental to sincere efforts to stop forced abortion and gendercide in China, because this message implies that the one-child policy is no longer a problem. In a world laden with compassion fatigue, people are relieved to cross China’s one child policy off of their list of things to worry about. But we must not do that. Let us not abandon the women of China, who continue to face forced abortion, and the baby girls of China, who continue to face sex-selective abortion and abandonment under the new two child policy.
“The one child policy does not need to be modified. It needs to be abolished.”
The organization has set up an online petition on the issue and has created a video about “China’s War on Women.”
The reason for China’s change has nothing to do with respect for life or an acknowledgment of family rights, the complaint contended.
“The reason given for this adjustment is entirely demographic: ‘to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population.’ The adjustment is a tacit admission that continuation of the one child policy will lead to economic and demographic disaster. The policy was originally instituted for economic reasons. It is ironic that through this very policy, China has written its own economic death sentence,” the complaint said.
In fact, the Chinese Communist Party, in announcing the change, ignored the issue of human rights, with Wang Peian, the vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, affirming China’s family planning restrictions would continue.
“The problem with the one child policy is not the number of children ‘allowed.’ Rather, it is the fact that the CCP is telling women how many children they can have and then enforcing that limit through forced abortion and forced sterilization,” Littlejohn wrote. “It will still be illegal for an unmarried woman to have a child. Regardless of the number of children allowed, women who get pregnant without permission will still be dragged out of their homes, strapped down to tables, and forced to abort babies that they want.”
A 2015 U.S. State Department report also affirmed that China has about 23 million abortions a year, not the 13 million reported earlier.
“The United States population is about 320 million, with about one million abortions per year. The population of China is almost 1.4 billion, with about 23 million abortions per year. Therefore China, with four times the population of the United States, has 23 times the number of abortions,” the complaint to the U.N. said.
WRWF also operates a “Save a Girl” campaign supporting mothers of girls facing financial hardship by raising the child.