WASHINGTON (BP)–A woman who is six months pregnant is being held in a Chinese hospital for a forced abortion under the government’s infamous population control program.
Arzigul Tursun, a mother of two, is awaiting an abortion she opposes while under guard in a hospital in Xinjiang, a vast region in the northwest part of the world’s most populous country, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). As a Uyghur Muslim, Tursun is permitted to have two children, but government officials have enforced the population control policy on her third child. She is 26 weeks into her pregnancy.
A pro-life U.S. congressman is protesting the unwanted abortion.
“The Chinese government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice, and of the U.N. Population Fund pretense that it has moderated the Chinese population planners’ cruelty,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., who sent a direct appeal to Zhou Wenzhong, China’s ambassador to the United States. “Human rights groups and the U.S. government will be watching very carefully to see what happens to Arzigul and her family.”
Tursun is being held at Yining’s Water Gate Hospital, according to RFA.
“We will give an injection first. Then she will experience abdominal pain, and the baby will come out by itself,” a nurse at the hospital said in a telephone interview, RFA reported Nov. 13. “But we haven’t given her any injection yet — we are waiting for instructions from the doctors.”
China’s population control policy, which has been in place since 1979, has been marked by forced abortions and sterilizations. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported. In addition to abortions and sterilizations, penalties for violations of the policy have included fines, arrests and the destruction of homes.
China’s policy generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking ethic group, and other minorities living in rural areas are allowed three children, but those from cities are permitted only two, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency, RFA reported. Tursun is from a rural area, but her husband, Nurmemet Tohtasin, is from a city.
The coercive program has helped produce a gender imbalance in the world’s most populous country, with many girls being aborted in order to enable a male baby to be born later. China had 120 males born for every 100 females in 2005, according to the U.N. Population Fund, which U.S. researchers report has assisted the government’s coercive population control program.
Tursun left the family’s home in the village of Bulaq to prevent a forced abortion but returned under pressure.
“When she fled the village to avoid abortion, police and party officials, and the family planning committee officials, all came and interrogated us,” said Tohtasin, according to RFA. “The deputy chief of the village … threatened that if we didn’t find Arzigul and bring her to the village, she would confiscate our land and all our property.”
After Tursun returned home, her husband and she were taken Nov. 11 to the hospital by an official of the village’s family planning committee, RFA reported. Tohtasin said he was pressured into signing permission forms for an abortion.
“If her health is normal, then the abortion will definitely take place,” the official said, according to RFA. “Otherwise they have to pay a fine in the amount of [$6,590 in U.S. currency] — that’s a lot of money, and they won’t have it.”
Tom Strode is Baptist Press’ Washington bureau chief.