I know the story of Xiao (pronounced “Sha-ow”) is not “news” right now, considering that it happened last fall, but, still, the tragedy of China’s one-child policy is brought out in such starkly human terms that it is hard to ignore. It is a sad story. Xiao Ai Ying and her husband were expecting their second child. Eight months pregnant, Xiao was already letting her first child feel the baby move and already talking about what it would be like when the new child arrived in their home. But the new child never did arrive in their home.
The child became yet another victim of China’s one-child policy. Police held Xiao in custody, and, after questioning her, they injected her womb with a solution to kill the child. She was then taken to a hospital in order to deliver the dead child. Xiao’s baby did die. And now, in accordance with the “Family Planning” controls of the People’s Republic of China, life is supposed to be better for Xiao and her family. If you watch the couple speak of the ordeal, you get the clear sense that their lives were not made better by the government’s family planning.
Interestingly, the news media who covered the incident seemed to get diverted by geography. The story became less about the practice of forced abortions in China and more about the surprise that it happened in a metropolitan area. The news reporters appear surprised, however, because they expect the Chinese government to uphold the value of life. Forcing a woman to have an abortion while she is 8 months pregnant seems an awful lot like… well, like killing a baby. This reality obviously made the NPR news crew a little nervous. So, following the lead of the Al Jazeera reporter who originated the story, they made the story about how surprising it was that this happened in a metro area instead of in a rural area.
But, really, what difference does it make where this horror unfolded? The reporter’s narrative is supposed to be that only in the “hick” and “backwoods” areas of China would one find these forced abortions, but that is a silly narrative. All over China, there is a one-child policy for the sake of family planning. Chinese officials admit that they vigorously promote family planning to lower the growth of their population. Even in the supposedly more humane metro areas, women who violate this one-child policy are subject to a fine of up to $40,000 and then a forced sterilization after the birth of the child. Granted, this is “more humane” than a forced abortion, but it is still inhumane.
This horror in China is a direct outgrowth of the policies of Communist government of China. There is no inconsistency between the official policy and the practice of forced abortion. The news reports make it sound as though there is this vast inconsistency between the Communist government and some of its overzealous local leaders who go too far. In other words, the news reports make it sound as though this forced abortion is merely the result of zealous upstarts wanting to make for themselves a name, and that it isn’t connected to official Chinese policy.
But of course it is connected directly to the official Chinese policy, which is why some responsible lawmakers called on President Hu Jintao during his recent visit to the White House to reverse the forced abortion policy in China. NPR assumes the news angle for this story is a vindication of Communist leaders. The news agency goes to some lengths to assert that the central Communist commanders must be unaware of the awful realities of forced abortions. But the argument doesn’t seem to fit. The argument agrees that the local government officials are dependent upon meeting their population target goals in order to advance their careers, but then the argument leaves the problem at the level of these local governments. Local officials supposedly get too excited about meeting their population goals, and so they go too far. Rather than simply encouraging abortions, they actually cause abortions.
But wouldn’t that argument be something like a parent telling his child that he will get an allowance if he steals $10 per week worth of merchandise from Wal-mart and then, when the racket is made public, turning the child in as a thief? Who is setting these population target goals? Why are they so important at the local level? Isn’t it because they are deemed important at the higher levels, you know, at the levels of the people who decide who gets promoted and who does not? Maybe rather than focusing on the supposedly overzealous local leaders, the news reports need to focus on the Communist leaders who insist upon setting population goals as a means of enforcing the one-child policy.
It is astounding how quickly the ugliness of abortion (I mean “family planning”) is colored over so that attention is diverted away from reality. This news story about Xiao Ai Ying and the baby who had to die in the name of family planning tells us something about ourselves. We know the awfulness of abortion. The writers of the NPR story are uncomfortable with the reality of abortion and the reality of China’s forced abortion policy, but their problem is that they cannot face the reality of their own repulsion. To do so would acknowledge the need to repent of supporting abortion. To acknowledge the awfulness of this awful reality would be to surrender the “freedom” of after –the-fact birth control. Though we know how hideous it is to kill babies in the womb, we still want the freedom to do it to escape the responsibility of parenthood and maintain our right to sexual promiscuity. That seems to be all the abortion debate is really about–at least in America. In China, women have more than the right to an abortion. They have a duty. The government sometimes enforces this duty.