To mark the 31st anniversary of China’s one-child policy, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Human Rights Subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to highlight the China Democracy Promotion Act of 2011, which would give the president of the U.S. the right to deny entry to people who have committed human rights abuses in China. This would include members of the Family Planning Commission who oversee forced abortions.
“It really is a statement, because China’s been sending way more students over here,” said Tessa Dale, director of communications for All Girls Allowed, a non-profit that works against the policy.
That statement is especially significant in the wake of Vice President Biden’s recent comment on his sympathy with the policy.
“Can you imagine the public reaction, what it would be, if the vice president of the United States said that he fully understands and is not second-guessing copyright infringement or violations of intellectual property rights?” said Rep. Christopher Smith (R., N.J.), who sponsored the bill and chairs the House the subcommittee. “When it comes to things, when it comes to products, there would be a huge cry from the U.S. if the vice president were to say he fully understands that kind of violation of rights. Not so when it comes to women who are being degraded and humiliated, and their children destroyed, and their lives destroyed.”
A hearing of the committee on Thursday drew attention to the human rights abuses in China.
“In China, a woman’s body is not her own,” said Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. “It is the domain of the state.”
Three Chinese women testified about being forced to have abortions. One spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal against many of her family members who still live in China.
Yeqing Ji, who spoke through a translator, described her devastating experience with the Family Planning Commission. Her in-laws wanted a grandson so much that they offered to pay the fines the family would be charged for breaking the law — three times their annual income — in hopes that the government would let them keep a second child. So Ji became pregnant.
Because she had to get a check-up at a hospital that worked closely with the Family Planning Commission, they soon learned of her illegal pregnancy and confronted her about it.
“But by this time, we were not afraid,” she said. “We were willing to take the punishment of fines and losing our jobs. It wasn’t as important as for us to have our child.”
But paying a fine wasn’t enough for the agents, who came to her home and physically seized her.
“Two others stopped my husband from rescuing me and started beating him. I begged them to spare us. We only wanted another baby and never wanted to do anything evil. Why did you keep such a close watch over us?” she said. “I kept begging them in tears, but it was no use.”
They dragged her down from her fourth-floor apartment to a waiting car and took her to a clinic, where they held her down and sedated her. While she was unconscious, doctors aborted her child and put an IUD into her.
“After the abortion, I felt empty, as if something was scooped out of me,” she said. “My husband and I had been so excited for a new baby. Now, suddenly all that hope and joy and excitement disappeared in one instant. I was very depressed and despondent. For a long time, whenever I thought of my lost child, I would cry.”
Today, she lives in the United States.