Kathleen Parker

To be clear, some of the online doctors expressed concern for the rights of the child. Others, however, worried only about potential legal ramifications. Technically, it is illegal in China to kill a baby, one is relieved to learn, but family-planning imperatives sometimes prevail. According to a 2009 State Department report, monetary incentives and penalties are attached to population targets, creating what amounts to bounties on the unborn.

As recently as July, officials of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the one-child policy "will be strictly enforced as a means of controlling births for decades to come," according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.

The violence of these procedures doesn't only kill the child in some instances. In two of the cases described in a document leaked this past August, the mothers died, too. Those who dissent, meanwhile, are persecuted.

Such has been the fate of activist Chen Guangcheng, who is serving a four-year sentence after exposing 130,000 forced abortions and sterilizations in Linyi County, Shandong province, in 2005. Named by Time magazine as one of 2006's top 100 people "who shape our world," Guangcheng, who is blind, was severely beaten and denied medical care the following year, according to an Amnesty International report.

The one-child policy has created other problems that threaten women and girls. The traditional preference for boys has meant sex-selected abortions resulting in a gender imbalance. Today, men in China outnumber women by 37 million, a disparity that has become a driving force behind sex slavery in Asia. Exacerbating the imbalance, about 500 women a day commit suicide in China -- the highest rate in the world, which Littlejohn attributes in part to coercive family planning.

Obviously, the U.S. is in an awkward position with China, our second-largest trading partner and the largest holder of our government debt. But Littlejohn hopes Obama will "truly represent American values, including our strong commitment to human rights." She is also calling on Planned Parenthood and NARAL to speak up for reproductive choice in China.

On this much, both sides of the abortion issue can agree: Forced abortion is not a choice. Averting our gaze from China's horrific abuse of women, is.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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