The Corner

China’s Forced Abortions: Statistics and Tragedies

Over the past week, outrage has been growing over China’s one-child policy after the widely reported story of a young woman’s forced abortion. The Beijing bureau of NBC News reports:

Feng [Jianmei], 22 years old and seven months pregnant, was dragged out of her relative’s home, carried and shoved into a van that headed straight to a hospital on June 2, she told NBC News in phone interview.

She was blindfolded, thrown on a bed, and forced to sign a document that she couldn’t read with the blindfold still on her eyes. Then two shots were injected into her belly. Thirty hours later, on the morning June 4, she gave birth to a dead baby girl.

After the birth, Feng’s sister took a graphic image of her lying on a hospital bed next to her dead daughter. The image was so disturbing (if you wish to see it, consider yourself warned before looking at it) that the story soon went viral on Chinese social media.

It is a truism of journalism that even when an injustice is being perpetrated upon thousands or millions of people, it may take the vivid image of a single victim to finally break through the barriers of the public conscience. Despite the sudden attention to this case, and its widespread description as a “scandal,” it is far from new or isolated. As Robert Zubrin, a frequent contributor to NRO, reports in The New Atlantis, the number of “illegal pregnancies” ended under the force of law in China every year hovers near and often surpasses 10 million. #more#Elsewhere around the world, coerced sterilization, forced abortion, and even infanticide have been part of state policy in dozens countries dating back to the 1960s, with tens or hundreds of millions of victims worldwide.

Zubrin’s new book, Merchants of Despair, traces these practices to an ideology he calls antihumanism, which holds that humanity’s growth must be restrained in order to protect the world from being overrun and its resources depleted. The spread of this belief to the top ranks of Western policymakers — including the administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon — was instrumental in the implementation of population-control policies in the Third World, often backed up by U.S. foreign-aid dollars.

Much of the media attention in China and even in the West has attempted to describe the story of Feng Jianmei as a regrettable case of excessive means employed in service of the otherwise necessary goal of population control. But Zubrin shows that population control policies like China’s are based on the debunked but still widely adhered-to Malthusian science of scarcity, which fails to understand that technology and innovation make the growth of the human population entirely differently from that of animals. If Zubrin is correct, then population control serves not to restrain poverty but to entrench it — and its abuses of human rights are not accidental, but are the inevitable result of seeing human beings as a species of vermin, and the creation of new people as a threat rather than a source of cooperation and promise for the human enterprise.

— Ari N. Schulman is a senior editor of The New Atlantis.

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