Forced abortions and sterilizations in China
Enemies Of the State? How local officials in China launched a brutal
campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations.
Magazine, 19 September, 2005)
Time Magazine has published a disturbing account of brutality by
family planning officials in Shandong province in eastern China. The
'one-child policy' was officially relaxed somewhat in 2002 when the law was
changed to allow Chinese parents to have more than one child if they were
willing to pay a "fine." On the other hand, local regulations in Shandong
allow a woman to have more than one child only if the first is handicapped
or is a girl.
Apparently as a result of criticism of the 'high' birth rate in the Linyi
Region, family planning authorities in the region began, in March, 2005, to
demand that women with illegal pregnancies have abortions and that those who
had the maximum number of children be sterilized. As women refused to
cooperate or went into hiding, pressure applied by the authorities became
more intense, extending to relatives, who were forced to undergo "study
sessions" to 'correct' their "wrong thinking." Going further, people who had
helped women avoid sterilization were beaten to death while in custody.
Between March and July in a single county of the province, authorities
forcibly sterilized at least 7,000 people.
The article describes how family planning officials seized the daughter
of Hu Bingmei, a woman with two children, to force her to go with them to
the local family planning clinic, where "nurses threw her onto an operating
table" for the operation, which, it seems, was bungled. It also describes
the killing of an infant in utero two days before the due date;
family planning operatives pinned the mother down on a bed in a clinic and
drove the syringe into her abdomen to lethally inject her daughter, who was
born dead ten hours later.
The State Family Planning Commission is reported to be investigating the
situation in Shandong and has promised to punish authorities who have broken
It is not unreasonable to believe that this type of campaign could give rise
to conflicts of conscience among some of the officials and health care
workers involved, either with respect to the procedures or the coercion and