Thursday, September 15, 2005

"Illegal Children"

***Although this passage is lengthy, please take the time to read it. It is copied from '' online issue Sept. 12/05. The more detailed version is on Time's website. Should the United States support the upcoming Olympics in China? Should we continually increase our trade practices with them? Or are we just as bad, killing 1000 unborn babies every day in the United States?***

The men with the poison-filled syringe arrived two days before Li Juan's due date. They pinned her down on a bed in a local clinic, she says, and drove the needle into her abdomen until it entered the 9-month-old fetus. "At first, I could feel my child kicking a lot," says the 23-year-old. "Then, after a while, I couldn't feel her moving anymore." Ten hours later, Li delivered the girl she had intended to name Shuang (Bright). The baby was dead. To be absolutely sure, says Li, the officials--from the Linyi region, where she lives, in China's eastern Shandong province--dunked the infant's body for several minutes in a bucket of water beside the bed. All she could think about on that day last spring, recalls Li, was how she would hire a gang of thugs to take revenge on the people who killed her baby because the birth, they said, would have violated China's family-planning scheme.

Since 1980, when China began fully carrying out what is commonly known as the one-child policy, officials in the provinces have often resorted to draconian measures--forced sterilizations and late-term abortions among them--to prevent the country's population of 1.3 billion from expanding into a Malthusian nightmare...

The Communist Party bureaucracy, however, doesn't seem to have caught up with the new law. Despite laxer regulation, the career advancement of local leaders, especially in rural areas, still often depends on keeping birthrates low. "One set of bad population figures can stop an official from getting promoted," says Tu Bisheng, a Beijing legal activist who has helped document abuses related to the one-child policy.

At a provincial meeting last year, Linyi officials were castigated for having the highest rate of extra births in all of Shandong, according to lawyers familiar with the situation. The dressing-down galvanized what appears to be one of the most brutal mass sterilization and abortion campaigns in years. Starting in March, family-planning officials in Linyi's nine counties and three districts trawled villages, looking to force women pregnant with illegal children to abort, and to sterilize those who already had the maximum allotment of children under the local family-planning policy. According to that regulation, which exists in a similar form in most rural areas, women with a son are not allowed to bear more children, whereas mothers whose first child is handicapped or a girl are allowed to have a second baby.

Many women refused to undergo the procedures. Others hid, often in family members' homes. The crackdown intensified. Relatives of women who resisted sterilization or abortion were detained and forced to pay for "study sessions" in which they had to admit their "wrong thinking," says Teng Biao, an instructor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, who visited Linyi last month to investigate the coercive campaign. In the Linyi county of Yinan alone, at least 7,000 people were forced to undergo sterilization between March and July, according to lawyers who spoke with local family-planning officials. Several villagers, the lawyers allege, were beaten to death while under detention for trying to help family members avoid sterilization.

Officials in Linyi deny that anything improper has happened. "All these things are either exaggerated, distorted or not based on facts," says an official surnamed Yao (he wouldn't give his full name) at the Linyi municipal family-planning commission...

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