(Before we begin…)
- If you or someone you’re close to has had an abortion, there is loving, compassionate help available here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
- If you work in the abortion industry, there are former industry workers who will help you quit (quietly or as a whistle-blower), find a new job, and even provide legal help if needed.
- If you’re pregnant and want help, you can find everything from a listening ear to a maternity home here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
(If you know of other crisis pregnancy or post-abortion resources, please let me know!)
* * * * *
We’re in a Chinese hospital for an ultrasound to confirm our first pregnancy. The examining room is a bit of gong show — there’s no privacy, and forget lining up; a group of women are elbowing each other for position, crowding the examining area, each trying to shove her paperwork in the doctor’s face ahead of the others while the doctor’s busy seeing Jessica. But we don’t care, it’s a spiritual moment for us: we’re going to hear our child’s heartbeat for the first time, see his or her first picture, get real live confirmation that there definitely is a baby growing inside Jessica and that we are indeed parents. Awestruck doesn’t even begin to capture our feelings. “I want to abort it,” a woman says bluntly in Chinese, in front of everyone, as she thrusts her paperwork at the doctor. That was our first personal encounter with abortion in China.
China’s Abortion Epidemic
That was two years ago. As our language ability develops and abortion becomes increasingly ubiquitous and brash in China, we’re running into it more often. If I take a taxi and the radio’s on, chances are I’ll hear a commercial about once every 30 minutes that always starts with the same unflinching dialogue:
“Oh no! I’m pregnant! What about my career? What will I do?”
“Don’t worry! It’s no problem. You can just go to blah-blah hospital and get a 3-MINUTE, PAINLESS abortion!”
Only once have I heard them use the euphemism of “woman’s surgery” for abortion; usually they’re just unapologetically explicit. Students have told me how they were “supposed to have a baby brother” but didn’t, and most of them assume we’re planning to have more than one child because we didn’t get a boy the first time. In a country with an on-going legacy of post-birth infanticide, killing babies before they’re born doesn’t carry near if any the stigma that it does in North America, as our taxi driver last week demonstrated by bringing it up in casual conversation:
Driver: “How many kids do you have?”
Me: “Just one, but we hope to have more later.”
Driver: “Yeah, then you can have a boy!”
Me: “We don’t really care if it’s a boy or a girl.”
Jessica: “Besides, you can’t really choose that anyway.”
Driver: “Sure you can! You just wait until the belly’s big enough” [he gestures] “and then you can see. If it’s a girl you can get rid of it, but if it’s a boy, ‘Oh! We want it!'” [thumbs up sign].
Sex-selective abortion may be small talk fodder for some in China, but pre-marital pregnancy is another story:
“The moral outrage over having a child before marriage in our society is much stronger than the shame associated with abortion,” said Zhou Anqin, the manager at the clinic in Xi’an, which performs about 60 abortions each month, mostly on students aged 24 or younger.
“Luckily, in Chinese culture people generally feel that before the actual birth, you don’t yet have an actual person, so we have cases of induced abortion at seven and eight months along,” Li said. “I think this is to China’s advantage from a population control point of view … China has absolutely no need for the so-called ‘right to life’ argument, no need to introduce ideas about abortion as murder and so on.” [Full article]
The Chinese abortion epidemic is even skewing gender ratios in North America. In my hometown of Surrey, B.C., Canada where our daughter was born, there were signs taped to the walls in the ultrasound clinics telling us that the techs and doctors would absolutely not tell us the gender of our baby. I later confirmed what the nurses in the NICU had told us: too many baby girls were being killed. Turns out that a school board administrator in the 1990’s noticed that the gender ratios in greater Vancouver elementary schools were skewed in areas with large East Asian and Indian communities (see Canada’s Missing Daughters and Ultrasound ads promote female abortion). (In Canada you can abort your child for any and no reason because a person’s legal status depends on her physical location relative to a few inches of birth canal (or, it used to); if she’s on the inside, then she has not yet magically transformed from a not-a-person into a baby. Arbitrarily disallowing minority women who have a gender preference to know the gender of their not-a-baby seems just a TAD hypocritical to me.)
I try not to share the nastiest parts of our China experience on the internet. It’s rude and misleading to show up in someone else’s country and make a big deal out of the absolute worst or exceptional and freakish experiences. All our societies have brutal, inhuman aspects to them, but China takes it to a whole nother more explicit level by foregoing the faux-moral fig leaves to which Western societies still hypocritically cling. In blunt, unapologetic ‘honesty’ China carries some things further toward their logical conclusions than North Americans are currently willing to go or admit to (in the West we’re still in denial about being unable to grow Judeo-Christian moral absolute apples — like the inherent value and dignity of people — from secular, relativistic trees).
I could share some things, with photos, that people do and accept/tolerate in China that are so mind-blowingly brutal and animalistic that they make ubiquitous abortion look minor by comparison, even to the hardest-core pro-lifers — but I wont. I will, however, translate something below, because abortion in China is invading everyone’s consciousness here with increasing regularity. And since it actually invaded our home this week, I’m blogging it as a significant aspect of our China experience that we can’t ignore.
Magical Abortions… at a discount!
If you buy a pregnancy test today in Tianjin, China (we’re not pregnant), it comes with one of these (below), because if you’re potentially pregnant in China the first thing you’re apparently supposed to do is consider killing your baby. And judging from the amount of advertising, pre-birth infanticide is not only much more convenient than traditional infanticide, it’s a cash cow:
This is an abortion discount card for a local hospital. Mouseover the Chinese text below to see the pronunciation. The front says:
“PAINLESS ABORTION Assistance Card” 无痛人流援助卡
“Assistance amount: $50 援助金额：326元
Tianjin City Family Planning [Government-]Appointed Hospital 天津市计划生育定点医院
Painless Abortion Assistance Hotline 无痛人流援助热线
And then it has the address, bus routes, and website. The back is worse:
The back compares three kinds of abortion: abortion via drugs 药物流产, ordinary abortion 普通人工流产, and (in the pink column) “Blah-blah Hospital’s Hysteroscopy Obtain Embryo Surgery” XX医院宫腔镜取胚术 (a Tianjin City Women’s Federation Designated Medical Treatment Aid Hospital 天津市妇联指定医疗救助医院). Here’s what the pink column says:
- Surgery eligibility 适应症 (“medical indication”):
- “up to and including the 11th week.”
- Surgery time 手术时间:
- “three minutes” 3分钟。
- Anesthetic 麻醉:
- “short-term effect I.V. anesthetic” 短效静脉麻醉。
- Patient’s surgery experience 手术者感受:
- “sweet dreams during the surgery, wake up promptly, cozy and cheerful after the surgery” 术中甜梦、术后即醒、舒适愉悦。
- Harmful side-effects 不良反应:
- “very few complications, won’t affect subsequent pregnancies, can go to work the next day” 并发症极少、不影响再次怀孕、转天即可上班。
Under the chart it says you can get:
- “a free ‘early avoidance early pregnancy detection’/ultrasound exam (valued at $20 USD)”
- “$30 USD off an abortion (Please present this card when visiting)”
Related blog posts:
Related news links:
- Chinese Academy of Social Sciences publishes the latest and most negative data on sex-selective abortion in China
- China’s abortion numbers grow
- Largest Gender Gap Seen in China’s Youngest Generation
- The worldwide war on baby girls
- India’s unwanted girls
- Mothers in China — Sobs on the night breeze: The centre of global gendercide
- Rise in abortions in China, young women targeted
- Abortion adverts come to a college campus
- Canada’s Missing Daughters
- Ultrasound ads promote female abortion
- Asian ‘Gendercide’ Migrates to North America
Canada’s “fourth trimester abortion”:
- Fourth Trimester Abortion
- Infanticide conviction nets Alberta woman suspended sentence
- Thrown Over the Fence — Infanticide, Canadian Style
On the Kermit Gosnell scandal: