Women's Rights Without Frontiers has no doubt that forced abortions continue to happen at this very moment in China. When the message goes out that this is no longer happening, it undermines the movement to stop it.
Considering the facts set forth in the AGA press release, WRWF reaches the opposite conclusion: The Chinese Government has NOT BANNED forced abortion. Until proven otherwise, we believe that any rhetoric generated by the Chinese Communist Party ostensibly banning forced abortion is propaganda designed to deflect the heat generated by the notorious forced abortion at seven months of Feng Jianmei in June 2012. Here's why:
1) Forced abortion has long been officially "banned" in China, yet it happens all the time.
In January 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao told Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen that China has no forced abortion policy, yet numerous cases of forced abortion have surfaced since that time. In addition, Article 4 of the Population and Family Planning Law of the People's Republic of China already protects against forced abortion. It states that Family Planning Officials shall "enforce the law in a civil manner, and they may not infringe upon legitimate rights and interests of citizens." This law is not worth the paper it is written on. Many credible reports of forced abortion have surfaced since this law was promulgated in 2002. To see examples from 2012, read WRWF's Complaint to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
2) The documents cited in the AGA press release do not support the conclusion that the Chinese government has banned forced abortion.
Both documents mention a ban on late-term forced abortion only. They are silent on early and mid-term forced abortion, and therefore do not ban such forced abortions. Further, both documents take the position that late-term abortions must be voluntary. The Chinese Communist Party, however, already insists that abortions must be "voluntary," and forced abortion is still practiced. In April 2012, for example, Pan Chunyan was grabbed out of her grocery store and forced to place her thumbprint on a document authorizing her abortion at eight months of pregnancy. Does this count as "voluntary" under the Policy?
These documents do not cite any penalty for breaking the "ban" on forced abortion. Nor do these documents discuss what will happen to women who are more than six months pregnant, but who cannot or will not pay the often impossible fines. To the contrary, both documents extol the virtues of the One Child Policy.
3) The documents cited in the AGA press release do not remove the financial or structural incentives that keep forced abortion in place.
The often excessive fines paid by couples to save an "out of plan" pregnancy are used to feather the pockets of family planning and other officials. These fines can reach up to ten times a person's annual salary. Job loss is another form of financial coercion and can be catastrophic. In March 2012, the head of the Chemistry Department at Renmin University in Beijing jumped to his death because he was accused of having a second child and threatened with being "discharged from public employment." Meanwhile, officials are promoted or demoted based on whether they meet birth, abortion and sterilization quotas.
Professor Commits Suicide Over Violating China's One-Child Policy
Jackie Sheehan, "Cruel Cut," South China Morning Post, 7/25/12
Clicking the "read more" link on the AGA press release and scrolling down will reveal that the release eventually mentions the fact that the documents cited are silent on the issue of early and mid-term forced abortions, and do not address the issue of "huge fines" as a form of coercion. These nuances, however, were predictably lost in the blast of the sensational headline.
Conclusion WRWF agrees that pressure is mounting to end forced abortion in China. However, to announce that the Chinese government has already banned it is, in our opinion, premature and inaccurate. We need to keep the pressure on, not celebrate propaganda designed to take the pressure off.
Sign a petition to end forced abortion here.