WASHINGTON (BP) — A five-time victim of China’s coercive abortion program told a congressional panel she is only one among many women devastated by her home country’s coercive, population control program.
Liu Ping joined other witnesses before a House of Representatives subcommittee in providing evidence that China’s three-decade-old program — known as the one-child policy — has produced, and continues to produce, widespread forced abortion and sterilization, as well as infanticide.
The hearing, which focused on the 31st anniversary of China’s official implementation of the population control program and the brutality toward families by family planning officials, featured testimony from victims and foes of the policy before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.
Speaking through a translator, Liu told the members of Congress she was forced to undergo five abortions from 1984 to 1990 as a married woman with a son.
“The day of my fifth abortion … was the saddest day of my life,” said Liu, who worked in a state-owned textile factory in China.
After performing the fifth abortion on Liu, doctors surgically inserted a metal intrauterine device (IUD) without her knowledge to prevent another pregnancy.
“I am just one of those many, many women [whose] lives [were] destroyed by the policy,” said Liu, who gave her testimony from within a walled-off section of the hearing room to protect her identity and her family’s safety.
China’s coercive policy — which went into effect Sept. 25, 1980 — was enacted by the communist regime in response to the country’s massive population growth. Under the program, a woman must be married and have a certificate that allows her to have a baby in order to give birth legally. If she does not have a certificate, it is against China’s policy to become pregnant. This policy has led to millions of forced abortions for women. There are an estimated 13 million abortions annually in the world’s most populous country, according to the advocacy organization All Girls Allowed.
The subcommittee received evidence from Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, of 13 new cases of violence by Chinese officials against women for crimes that included not having a birth permit for a pregnancy and missing a pregnancy check by one day.
She also reported recent evidence of infanticide. “Xinhua [China’s official news agency] reported that 21 bodies of fetuses and babies were found discarded in a river in East China,” said Littlejohn.
Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, joined Littlejohn at the hearing in endorsing the China Democracy Promotion Act, H.R. 2121. If the bill becomes law, it would “enable the president to deny entry into the U.S. for Chinese nationals who have committed human rights abuses against people in China …” Littlejohn said.
Chinese families typically prefer males to females to carry on the family line. With China’s policy restricting many families from legally having more than one child, many couples take part in “gendercide — the deliberate extermination of a girl, born or unborn — simply because she happens to be female,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., the subcommittee’s chairman.
Since it is possible in China to have an ultrasound performed for $12 in American money, many couples get an abortion if they find out the baby is a girl because of their desire to have a boy. A growing gender imbalance has been the result. There are 37 million Chinese men who will not be able to find wives and marry because of the abortion, abandonment and infanticide of baby girls, Littlejohn said.
Chai, a political refugee who helped lead the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement and became the second most wanted person in China, established All Girls Allowed to help women and encourage them not to have abortions. Having lived in China for half of her life, Chai has a personal history with abortion under China’s policy.
“The first time I became pregnant, I was 19 years old…. I was terrified and deeply ashamed,” Chai said at the Sept. 22 hearing.
After her first abortion while in college, she had three more abortions in China and one in Paris despite being allowed to have a baby there.
After arriving in America, Chai came to accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. Through All Girls Allowed, she continues her efforts to bring awareness to what is happening in China.
“We know that through the most Almighty God all things are possible, so I am concluding my testimony in peace and in hope and belief that China’s people will be set free and set free soon,” Chai said.
The Chinese population control policy generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children.
Jennifer Hatcher is an intern with the Washington bureau of Baptist Press.