Guangxi Officials Carry Out Mass Forced Abortions


2007-04-22
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Members of China's Communist Party Youth League. Photo: AFP

HONG KONG—Authorities in China’s southwestern region of Guangxi have forced dozens of pregnant women to a hospital in Baise city to undergo abortions, some as late as nine months, the women and their relatives said.

In interviews with RFA’s Mandarin and Cantonese services, several women and their husbands said they were visited last week by officials from the municipal family planning bureau, which is in charge of upholding strict population controls under China’s “one-child” policy.

They all reported the same scenario: that the women were bundled aboard a vehicle and taken to a hospital in Baise, where many other pregnant women were crammed into wards and corridors. Their babies were then aborted against their will, they said.

“They said they were giving me an injection to induce labor. But they injected it into the fetus, and when the baby was born, it was already dead,” a woman who had been seven months pregnant told RFA reporter Fung Yat-yiu.

They said they were giving me an injection to induce labor. But they injected it into the fetus, and when the baby was born, it was already dead.

Family planning officials present

“The injections were carried out by the hospital staff, but there were officials from the family planning bureau supervising them,” the woman, surnamed Zhou, said.

He Caigan was in Bed No. 37 at the Youjiang District People’s Hospital. Her pregnancy was her first, but she was forced to have an abortion at nine months because she wasn’t yet 18 years old, and had no marriage certificate with her partner.

“They injected me twice,” she told Mandarin service reporter Yan Ming. “It was very painful. They injected into the region of the baby’s head. I could feel the baby moving in my womb.”

“It twitched for about 20 minutes and then it didn’t move any more...There’s nothing I can do. I will just have to let this baby go,” He said.

“There’s another woman here who had an injection at nine months. They made her come to the hospital,” she said.

Another woman, Wei Lingrong of Bed No. 39, was recovering at home after losing her baby to the forced abortion procedure. “She is still very weak,” her husband, pastor Liang Yage, told RFA’s Cantonese service. “We are both very upset, and think that this procedure was unacceptable. It was so sudden.”

Dozens of women affected

“They gave her the injection at 11 a.m. the previous day and she had the abortion at about 6 p.m. the following day. When the baby was born we could see it was a little boy. I don’t know the name of the medication they used but it’s something that kills the child slowly,” Liang added.

“My wife had been eating a lot and had put on a lot of weight, so we didn’t realise she was pregnant until about three months in. We weren’t going to have an abortion then, because of our religious beliefs,” he said.

My church pastor has been warned by officials from the State Administration for Religious Affairs not to talk to the media.His telephone has been under surveillance. I went to the hospital today and no more pregnant women were there...They have been transferred elsewhere.

Staff at the People’s Hospital in Youjiang confirmed Tuesday that the obstetrics and gynecology department was full.

“Right now we’re in the middle of a family planning foray this month so beds are very scarce. Suddenly there are so many patients here,” one woman who answered the phone in obstetrics and gynecology told the Cantonese service.

A male healthcare worker in the same department said: “Who told you this? If they want the child, then we don’t inject them; we don’t perform abortions if they are unwilling.”

“If you want to know what’s going on, why don’t you come here and see for yourself. It’s not my job to deal with you,” he told the Mandarin service.

A woman who answered the phone at the hospital confirmed the presence of family planning officials at the hospital. “There’s a whole bunch of them here,” she said, adding that they’d been staying there through recent days. “If you have any questions why don’t you come over here and see for yourself.”

But Qing Youzi, a woman who says she was also forced into an abortion, swept aside officials’ replies as evasions. “Of course it’s the family planning bureau doing this. The family planning officials have been here right through. They’re all organized to bring the women in, then they go out again and bring in some more.”

The head of the Chinese Federation of House Churches Zhang Ming said that a similar forced abortion drive had also recently taken place in the eastern province of Shandong.

“We think that it’s unreasonable of the Chinese government to carry out forced abortions like this,” Zhang said. “It has been happening in Laizhou city [Shandong province] as well in recent days.”

Abuses reported

One member of a banned or “underground” church who asked to be identified only by his surname, Gao, said he was unable to find any fellow church members at the Youjiang District People’s Hospital when he went to look for parishioners who had been forced into abortions.

“My church pastor has been warned by officials from the State Administration for Religious Affairs not to talk to the media,” Gao told RFA’s Cantonese service. “His telephone has been under surveillance. I went to the hospital today and no more pregnant women were there...They have been transferred elsewhere.” Contacted by phone, the pastor’s wife said she had just been forced into an abortion, seven months into her own pregnancy, along with an unknown number of pregnant parishioners.

“I think these [officials] will get a bonus if an abortion has been done. They way they do is so cruel and illegal,” she said.

Under China’s draconian family planning rules, local officials must keep new births in their region down below a specified target or face fines and a poor career record.

Family planning officials have been reported to use violence in many parts of China in order to keep births down. Couples who get pregnant after more than one child have complained of beatings and even house demolitions resulting from their breach of strict population guidelines.

Probe ordered

A spokesman for the China Population and Family Planning Commission in Beijing told RFA’s Cantonese service that the commission had sought an investigation.

“We have learned of the situation in Baise. We have already asked the Guangxi Population and Family Planning Commission to investigate the incident and report back to us,” the spokesman said.

An official with the municipal family planning office said they would need to investigate before responding. Another official named Liu, at the provincial family planning office, said he knew nothing about the alleged abortion drive.

Forced abortion illegal in China

According to the official Xinhua news agency in December 2006, Baise’s birthrate was 13.61 percent, compared with 19.7 percent for Guangxi province and 15.87 percent for all of China.

The U.S. State Department’s 2006 report on human rights worldwide meanwhile states that Chinese law—relaxed slightly in recent years from the stringent standards established in 1980—"prohibits the use of physical coercion to compel persons to submit to abortion or sterilization.”

“However, intense pressure to meet birth limitation targets set by government regulations resulted in instances of local birth-planning officials using physical coercion to meet government goals…Women faced a disproportionate burden due to the government’s enforcement of its birth limitation laws and practices.”

“Such laws and practices required the use of birth control methods (particularly IUDs and female sterilization, which according to government statistics, accounted for more than 80 percent of birth control methods employed) and the abortion of certain pregnancies,” the State Department report said.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Yan Ming, and in Cantonese by Feng Yat-yiu. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. RFA Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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