China Frees Pregnant Mom after International Outcry

Steven Mosher
Population Research Institute
19 November 2008
Vol. 10 / No. 49
Reproduced with Permission

A young mother pregnant with her third child has been freed after narrowly escaping a forced abortion at the hands of Chinese authorities, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). Arzigul Tursun, who is six-months pregnant, was scheduled to be given a lethal infection today that would have resulted in the death of her unborn child, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Instead, she was allowed to return home unharmed, at least for now, because the case had attracted international attention and widespread outrage. In an interview with RFA, Tursun said, "I am all right and I am home now."

The young mother, who is a member of a Turkish minority called the Uyghurs, was originally slated for an abortion because authorities told her that she had violated China's population control policies by conceiving a third child. China's minorities are generally allowed to have two children before being sterilized.

The last-minute reprieve marked the third time that Tursun had narrowly escaped with her child's life. Twice earlier she had been captured by China's population control cadres and sent to the hospital under guard. Twice she had managed to escape and regain her freedom.

Her husband told RFA that the last time she fled local officials had threatened to confiscate his house, crops and fields if he didn't reveal his wife's whereabouts. China's population control police routinely destroy homes and confiscate property of those who refuse to comply with their orders to abort. The police later tracked Tursun down where she was hiding at the home of a relative and took her into custody.

U.S. Congressmen Chris Smith and Joe Pitts were among those who publicly condemned the actions by the Chinese government and called for Tursun's release. Smith remarked, "Is the Chinese government really going to forcibly abort a third-trimester baby, after the mother's desperate efforts to save her child have become a global news story?"

Conspicuously silent, however, was the U.N. Population Fund, which has been actively supporting China's one-child policy for many years. Despite the continued victimization of many women like Arzigul Tursun, the UNFPA persists in providing support to the Chinese agency in charge of implementing this oppressive birth limitation policy. Even worse, the US taxpayer under President-elect Obama may very soon resume funding the UNFPA without any change in their behavior.

The US government has in the past withheld funding from the U.N. agency because of its complicity in China's coercive population control program. A 2001 PRI investigation in China documented that forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and other abuses were occurring in China with the UNFPA's foreknowledge and implicit consent. As a result, the U.N. agency has lost around $240 million in the years since, with President Bush annually invoking the Kemp-Kasten Amendment that denies funding for any organization supporting or participating in forced abortion or involuntary sterilization programs.

The latest determination from the State Department that UNFPA is ineligible for funding because of Kemp-Kasten was made in June, 2008. Yet, according to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), President-elect Barack Obama intends to funnel millions of dollars to UNFPA despite their cooperation with the Chinese population control program. In fact, during the election campaign President-elect Obama promised to restore federal funding to the UNFPA, and this pledge is also contained in Democratic Party's 2008 platform.

The UNFPA denies that its work in China supports coercive population control practices, saying that it is instead "designed to demonstrate that voluntarism and informed choice are key to successful family planning programs," with an aim of reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. It has also claimed that it has eliminated coercion in certain parts of China.

Tell that to Arzigul Tursun. The UNFPA has been operating in China since 1979(!), and the barbarity of the Chinese population controllers continues apace.

As for Arzigul Tursun and her unborn baby, the Chinese government has blinked--for now. But they are by no means safe from reprisals. Even if Tursun is allowed to continue her pregnancy to term, there is still the risk that her baby will be killed by lethal injection at birth, a not uncommon occurrence in China. Moreover, it is virtually certain that she herself will be sterilized at that time.

If Obama restores funding to the UNFPA, his administration will be knowingly funding such tragedies as these with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. Both the American and the Chinese people deserve better.