Maggie Gallagher

Death tolls from the Chinese quake now top 65,000. Hollywood's Sharon Stone wonders aloud whether "karma" explains the tragedy because (she said) the Chinese are "not nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine."

Amnesty International reports hopes are fading that the Beijing Olympics may lead China to reform, warning in an April report: "It is increasingly clear that much of the current wave of repression is occurring not IN SPITE OF the Olympics, but actually BECAUSE OF the Olympics."

But to me the most shocking reminder of how horrifying the Chinese government remains lies latent in this week's headlines: "One-Child Policy Has Exceptions After China Quake," as the Associated Press wrote.

Families with only one child killed in the earthquake "can obtain a certificate to have another child, the Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in the capital of hard-hit Sichuan province said."

The government will give you a certificate so you can have another child? How big of them.

Tibetan Buddhists have their friends in Hollywood, and the international human rights community still frowns on torturing political activists. But China's brutal oppression of women's bodies and basic disrespect for human life generates a collective yawn in the Western human rights community.

Throw an AIDS/HIV activist in jail? International outrage, naturally. But who really cares about the right of an ordinary Chinese woman to have her baby?

Chinese population policies spawn an ambivalent (at best) reaction in the West because so many agree with the goal, they tend to downplay or ignore the means.

In China the government owns everything, including women's bodies. Women must apply to their work unit for permission to get pregnant, and whole groups can be punished if one woman gets "illegally" pregnant. The "illegally born" are a serflike caste who can be denied equal access to a whole host of government services necessary for life under communism. "One Extra Birth, Whole Family Sterilized," warns a government propaganda poster (examples of which are collected and translated by the Laogai Research Foundation).

How does this "policy" work? One woman, a Muslim ethnic Uzbek in China named Mahire Omerjan, testified to the Laogai Research Foundation what it was like to "illegally" conceive her second child in the 1990s.


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.