WASHINGTON (BP)–“Cruel and barbaric,” one congressman called it. “Insidious,” said a woman personally victimized by the policy. My “life was destroyed by this policy,” added a second victim, representing a chorus of untold others.
Such were the testimonies, grim and heart-wrenching, heard Thursday in a House subcommittee hearing entitled “China’s One-Child Policy: The Government’s Massive Crime Against Women and Unborn Babies.” Calling on the voices of women who have experienced firsthand the ongoing population-control efforts inside China, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on global health and human rights sought to spotlight and help bring to an end the human rights atrocities in the strictly-controlled People’s Republic of China.
“The one child per couple policy is the most egregious, systematic attack on mothers ever,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) in his opening prepared remarks. The Sept. 22 hearing, according to his tally, marked no less than the 29th time the human-rights defender has chaired a congressional panel addressing China’s coercive policy, which officially began Sept. 25, 1980. And given that the Chinese government has offered no signs of reversing course anytime soon, it likely won’t be his last.
For more than three decades, the Chinese government has strictly monitored who among its citizenry can have children and under what circumstances. Urban couples generally are restricted to one child. Couples in rural areas are often permitted two children, at most. Violating the policy, as one-child policy victim Ji Yeqing testified, invites punishments such as heavy fines and loss of job. Working against the policy invites beatings and imprisonment, added Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, citing human rights activist Chen Guagchen among those victimized.
China’s brutal population control has bred widespread coerced abortion, forced sterilization, infanticide and female gendercide — the sex-selection abortion of female babies in favor of males. By some accounts, as many as 37,000 unborn babies are aborted in China each day.
According to a former health secretary in the Chinese government, commenting last week during a private House Budget Committee hearing, China’s one-child policy has likely prevented the birth of more than 400 million lives. That’s the equivalent of the entire U.S. population — plus an additional nearly 100 million more humans. The policy has given way to a widening disparity between the number of males and females. Today, more than 120 males are born for every 100 females in China, resulting in roughly 100 million more males than females. This has contributed to a rise in the sex trafficking industry and a shortage of brides.
Making the dire situation in China even worse, the U.S. government is helping to finance it. In 2009, the Obama administration restarted U.S. contributions — to the tune of nearly $50 million per year — to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is widely known to be linked to China’s one-child policy. This runs counter to the longstanding Kemp-Kasten amendment, which authorizes the president to deny U.S. financial support to any program that supports or manages coercive family planning programs. Under several previous administrations, the U.S. withheld contributions to the UNFPA because of news of its linkage to China’s birth policy and forced sterilizations.
For its part, the U.S. government ought to bring itself back into compliance with Kemp-Kasten. H.R. 2059, a bill sponsored by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), would revoke authority of the Secretary of State to send any U.S. aid to the UNFPA. To be sure, severing the U.S. financially from the UNFPA won’t end China’s policy. But it’s a good place to begin.
If you agree that the U.S. should cut off all funding from the UNFPA, which is linked to China’s one-child policy, please visit www.capwiz.com/ethics/dbq/officials and urge your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 2059.
Doug Carlson is manager for administration and policy communications for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Washington D.C. office.