China Uses Abortion as Female Genocide
Thursday, Feb. 15, 2001
LONDON - Shocking pictures of an apparent victim of China's
"one-child policy" - a newborn baby girl lying dead in a gutter, ignored by
passers-by - have prompted shock and revulsion.
The pictures, published in a British newspaper Wednesday,
come at a time British government officials are holding talks in China over human rights
The U.S. administration is also this week expected to
decide on whether to support an annual U.N. resolution condemning China's human rights
record. Members of the Senate Tuesday introduced a resolution urging President Bush to
"take the lead" in an international censure of Beijing.
The photographs were taken by a horrified visitor and
smuggled out of China after police questioned her for photographing the dead child, and
The woman said the baby's naked body, spotted lying
alongside a road in a small town in Hunan province, was still warm - she had clearly been
dumped and had just died.
Many passers-by on their way to work ignored the child, the
Mirror quoted her as saying, while some stopped to look, then walked on. Pictures showed
life going on as normal, until an elderly man eventually put the tiny body into a box and
carried it away.
The woman said she called the police, who took more than
three hours to arrive. When they did, they questioned her for an hour, checked her
identification papers, and took all her film, except for one she managed to hide.
China's population is expected to increase from 1.26
billion at the end of 1999 to 1.6 billion in 2050.
Abortion Used Against Women
Under a "one-child policy," introduced in 1979 to
help slow down the galloping population growth rate, parents are routinely sterilized and
face large fines if they have more than one child.
The government claims it has successfully prevented 250
million births since it was introduced.
But it has also been estimated that the policy has resulted
in there being 60 million more males in China than females. Many parents, aware they will
only have one child to look after them in their old age, want that child to be a son, say
human rights campaigners.
As a result, parents who can afford it have their child
screened in the womb, then abort girls. Those who give birth to girls may abandon them or
leave them to die.
Determination of gender during ultrasound scans has been
officially banned for years, but the practice continues. One 1999 report on the
International Planned Parenthood Federation Web site says that between 500,000 and 750,000
unborn Chinese girls are aborted every year after sex screening.
Last August, Western newspapers reported a case in which
"family planning" officials had killed an unauthorized baby in front of its
The Huang family already had three children when the mother
fell pregnant again, according to the reports. Having botched an attempt to induce an
abortion, "family planning" officials then ordered the father to kill the
newborn baby, whom he instead tried to hide. Eventually they found the baby boy and
drowned him in a rice paddy, in front of the parents.
"China's population-control policies allow petty
bureaucrats across the country a free hand to ruin people's lives as they extort bribes
and gifts and dispense life-or-death decisions," one London newspaper reported at the
After a public outcry, authorities reportedly arrested
three "family planning" officials.
According to information provided by the Chinese Embassy in
Britain, the government views the policy as benefiting the whole of society. It claims
that "forced abortion and sterilization are strictly prohibited by the Chinese laws
and offenders will be punished according to law."
A Taiwan newspaper in December quoted the director of
China's state "family planning" commission as admitting that the policy has led
to forced abortions, sex-selective abortions, as well as infanticide and the abandonment
of newborn girls.
But China would go on implementing the policy, he said,
while continuing to oppose "coercion" and "induced abortion."
The policy has been relaxed in some areas, and some parents
are allowed to have a second child, in return for paying a fee, often more than a year's
Britain's largest pro-life organization, Life, said that
while the pictures were deeply upsetting, it was grateful to the photographer for getting
out images depicting so vividly "the depths that China's so-called family-planning
policy has sunk to."
Life spokesperson Nuala Scarisbrick commented on the
obvious indifference of passers-by to the abandoned baby.
"Evidently in China they have become as desensitized
to the horror of culling newborn children as we in the Western world have become to
destroying preborn children."
Scarisbrick berated the British government for funding
international "family planning" agencies that promote abortion. She called on
the government to follow President Bush's example and stop using taxpayers' money to
support these agencies.
The human rights organization Amnesty International said
while it did not have a position of the "one-child policy" itself, it was
opposed to the resulting human rights violations.
"We believe the Chinese government should take action
to ensure that its family planning officials do not commit human rights violations by
making women have abortions, even physically detaining them to have abortions," said
Amnesty's Isabel Kelly.
Gary Streeter, international development spokesman for the
opposition Conservative Party, said Wednesday it was essential that Britain contributed in
no way to "this appalling practice" and lobbied Beijing to ensure that it ends.
In a letter to International Development Secretary Clare
Short, Streeter called for an extensive review of all British-funded Chinese government
and nongovernmental bodies "to ensure that no British taxpayers' money is directly or
indirectly supporting the one-child policy."
A spokesman for Short said in response to queries that the
department "does not fund population control in China or anywhere else."