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Pro-life in abortion-saturated China — What do you do?

(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!)

* * * * *

Abortion-saturated China

If you don’t read Chinese, what would you assume this ad — with it’s heart-shaped-hand-enveloped unborn child — is for?


Painless Abortion Surgery 无痛人流术
Give love the safest guarantee 给爱最安全的保障
Because of love — for / give the unmet child 因为爱——给未谋面的孩子
Ultimately / in the end, the best gift 最后,最好的礼物

Chinese abortion rates are so high that Chinese temporary residents skew their host countries’ abortion stats. “Pro-life” encompasses more issues than abortion, issues for which China also provides plenty of fodder (China executes more people than pretty much everyone else, for example). But I’m betting abortion is the one that’s most in-your-face.

The reasons for this are many: a big, bold abortion industry + general aversions toward the Pill or condoms + zero support for unwed mothers + the One Child Policy + male chauvinism + collectivist identity that doesn’t recognize the inherent worth or intrinsic rights of the human individual + abortion as an enhancement of China’s ongoing legacy of infanticide + poor sex ed + casual attitudes toward abortion… Point being that the chances of personally encountering abortion-related situations in China are very, very high, whether your looking for them or not.

For example, here’s a conversation a new coworker of mine had at her preschool branch just last week, on her 5th day in China:

Today the girls learned I had a huge family [she has 9 siblings]. One responded, “Your mother is very lucky, I dream of having many children in the next life.” Another responded that she already had her first child and needed to go have an abortion, do I have advice for her? Ahhh, what?!! I was like, “Oh, no! Are you sad?” She said, “Yes,” but remained totally expressionless, no big deal attitude and then kept on doing whatever she had been doing.

Imagine: it’s your 5th day in China, you’ve just learned “你好” and “谢谢“, you’re jet-lagged like anything, and a coworker asks you for advice on her impending One-Child Policy-mandated abortion.

Pro Life conscience, Abortion-saturated China

For those of you who realize that the unborn are living human individuals and who believe in universal human rights, that denying basic human rights to an entire class of human beings for the purpose of legalizing their slaughter by the millions is a gross injustice; and that offering (for a fee) to dismember alive or chemically burn to death the babies of women in hardship enables, perpetuates and profits from systemic inequality and male chauvinism, here are some questions (others are welcome to comment, too):

How do you handle living in this abortion-saturated society? What do you do? If you’re semi-literate you’ve seen the “3-minute” “painless” abortion ads. If you have Chinese friends you’ve probably had or at least overheard deceptively casual “Oh I’ve gotta go get an abortion”-type conversations. How do you respond? How do you think you should respond? How do you wish you’d responded differently in the past? Do you know of resources or opportunities for people who want to help (pregnancy and maternity support charities, adoption route options, sex education projects, etc.)? Contact me personally if you don’t want the information out in public.

Some of our own abortion-in-China stories (more are on the way), including a hospital experience and some translated conversations and advertising are here:

Abortion & China:

5 thoughts on “Pro-life in abortion-saturated China — What do you do?”

  1. I know some number of people who have left the country to have a second child (I think usually planned, but in at least one case, not). But that’s obviously not a real option for the average person. This one hits way close to home for me.

    I find the situation weird here–coming from the US where abortion is a religious and political debate. With that background, I’d would have expected that there wouldn’t be a debate here and yet the debate exists, occasionally more publicly, and from people who would never dare hint at anti-abortion sentiments in the US (since in the US you can’t even hint at the idea of abortion being wrong without being regarded as anti-women, religious and political extremist, etc.) Case in point 1: the woman who was forced to abort a viable baby (8- or 9- months) back a year or so. Huge public outcry of “this is murder, this is wrong”. Case in point 2: The movie 唐山大地震 (I think called Earthquake in English) that came out maybe 3 years ago. It was hugely popular at the time–and I’d recommend watching it if you haven’t. The main character, a Tangshan earthquake survivor, gets pregnant in college and chooses to keep her baby, with all the challenges of being a single mother, because of the circumstances she lived through as a child–without giving away too many spoilers, essentially because she’s seen enough death to last a lifetime. Not a major takeaway I’m expecting to see out of Hollywood any time soon.

    Answers … I don’t know. Expecting my third girl … don’t know if I’m making statements about the value of life or just making statements about being a rich and/or crazy foreigner who doesn’t have to follow local laws. Not that I’m trying to make any statement at all. But being a foreigner in this country doesn’t really lend itself to that luxury. And it makes all of this hit awfully close to home.

  2. I’ve never thought of Chinese birth tourism having a connection to their abortion rates. If you have means to do the passport baby thing (not cheap!) then you easily have the means to simply pay the 2nd-child fine. I’ve always assumed the main reason is to get a foreign passport, not skirt the One Child Policy, since there are cheaper and more convenient ways to get around the OCP.

    Didn’t know that the earthquake movie (I remember the posters and trailers) had a single mother aspect to it… makes it sound a lot more interesting, just to see how she was portrayed.

    Did you have any of you kids or do any prenatal stuff in China at Chinese hospitals? I recently shared our ultrasound experience with some Chinese friends (as Jessica was being examined other women were shoving to the front of the line, telling the doctor “I want to abort it!”), and they’d had similar experiences.

    Statements… I suppose our choices make statements whether we want them to or not.

    1. Actually birth tourism wasn’t quite what I was thinking, though you’re likely right about that. My husband works for a large multinational company that regularly sends their employees abroad for training (with spouses for longer assignments), and there’s definitely a higher-than-average second child rate among his coworkers. But the option isn’t as good as it looks because the second child can’t get hukou.

      I did have my second one in China but went the international hospital route. Among the reasons, I have to admit, because I like my privacy :)

    1. Hard to say … I know at least one couple who decided to register their child born abroad and not have a second because of the hukou issue. For the ones who are in management and can afford to send their kids to international schools, and were dreaming of sending them abroad for university anyway, it’s not a big deal I don’t think–for the more average employees it seems like it might end up being a pretty big financial strain. I know one family with the mom in the US w/ 2 kids for (free public) education–the oldest was born in the US– while the dad is here working. It might have been their plan all along, I’m not sure, but last I saw them I think she would have dearly loved to move back. But by the time the older one is done with high school, the younger one would never be able to step back into the Chinese education system. Which leaves them with living in 2 countries for about 12 years, in part at least because of the hukou issue. So I guess it looks to me like it can cause a big mess, but I don’t know if any of them have ever actually said as much.

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