The staggering number of abortions should prompt mourning for the victims, but it should not be shocking, said pro-life observers of China's policy, because the Communist government has enforced a coercive, "one-child" policy for more than 30 years.
On March 14, the Chinese Health Ministry reported the following statistics for its family planning practices since 1971, according to the Financial Times:
-- 336 million abortions performed;
-- 196 sterilizations conducted;
-- 403 million intrauterine devices inserted.
China, the world's most populous country, first instituted limits on population growth in 1971. It established its "one-child," population control program in 1979. The policy has resulted not only in many reports of authorities carrying out forced abortions and sterilizations, but there also have been accounts of infanticide.
The 336 million abortions surpass the current United States population of about 315 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It also dwarfs the number of abortions reported in this country during the last 40 years. Since abortion was legalized for any reason throughout pregnancy in 1973, there have been an estimated 55 million of the lethal procedures in the United States, which has a population about one-fourth that of China.
The abortion total should not be unexpected, said Reggie Littlejohn, an opponent of China's "one-child" policy.
"Devastating though they are, such numbers do not come as a surprise," said Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF). She described 336 million as "a realistic approximation," since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) disclosed in 2009 there are 13 million abortions a year in the country.
"One statistic the CCP never discloses is how many of these abortions were forced," Littlejohn said in a written statement provided to Baptist Press. "Of these 336 million abortions, how many women were dragged out of their homes, strapped to tables and forced to abort babies that they want, up to the ninth month of pregnancy? How many women died as a result of these violent procedures? And of these 336 million abortions, how many were selectively aborted because they were girls?"
She said, "Another statistic the CCP never discloses is how many of the 196 million sterilizations were forced? ... Forced sterilization is a crime against humanity."
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, uncovered the forced-abortion practices of the "one-child" policy in 1980, while he was a Stanford University doctoral student in China.
"Having witnessed some of the 330 million abortions that the Chinese Communist Party has admitted performing on China's women, I can attest to the fact that most of those abortions have the character of a rape," Mosher told BP in a written statement. "That is, they were performed on women who were ordered, or even physically forced, to submit to the knife."
"We should mourn not only for the hundreds of millions of unborn victims of China's misguided policy, but also for the women themselves whose bodies were violated, whose minds were scarred, and whose hearts were broken," he said. "It is no accident that China's women have the highest suicide rate in the world, not to mention the highest rates of breast cancer, all in consequence of having had their babies killed in utero by a state ruthlessly bent on population control."
More than 70 studies have shown a link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer, according to the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.
Littlejohn said China's overwhelming abortion statistics "boggle the mind and mask the hundreds of millions of individual broken lives caused by this brutal policy. ... Forced abortion and involuntary sterilization are violence against women. ... China will not be free until the women of China are free."
She urged new Chinese President Xi Jinping to halt "this state-sponsored crime against humanity."
The Chinese government announced March 10 it was merging the National Population and Family Planning Commission, which oversees the "one-child" policy, with the Health Ministry, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The "one-child" policy has resulted in many reported deaths of female babies by abortion and infanticide because of the Chinese preference for sons, as well as a dramatic gender imbalance.
China's "one-child" program generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children. Couples who violate the policy face the possibility of not only forced abortions or sterilizations but of large fines, job loss and imprisonment.
The intrauterine device, or IUD, is a contraceptive that can cause an abortion by blocking the implantation of a days-old, human embryo.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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