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Choice or Control?

Joseph A. D'Agostino

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For the fourth year in a row, the Bush Administration made the right decision last week by withholding funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, you should favor this decision. By denouncing it, feminist and "family planning" organizations have once again shown that they are more pro-control than they are pro-choice.

By promoting family planning in mainland China and working with the Chinese government's population control apparatus, UNFPA effectively supports and subsidizes China's coercive population control program. Anyone who believes UNFPA's claim that its participation has moderated China's brutal policies need only read the article "Enemies of the State?" in the Sep. 19, 2005 edition of Time (www.time.com), which details "what appears to be one of the most brutal mass sterilization and abortion campaigns in years." Officials in Linyi, Shandong Province began a campaign in March of this year that included forced abortions and forced sterilizations of thousands of Chinese women so that local officials could meet their birth limitation goals.

Communist China's massive, systematic, and official restriction of women's reproductive freedom has drawn little interest from feminist and family planning groups and officials, some of whom have even praised the coercive program. In China, women are typically allowed to have only one or two children, depending on certain circumstances, before facing severe penalties. The rights of women, and those of their husbands, in this nation of 1.3 billion people are unimportant to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and Population Action International (PAI), who are among the organizations denouncing the administration's decision. Now, $25 million of the $34 million in funding Congress appropriated for UNFPA will be redirected by the Bush Administration to children's health programs due to UNFPA's support for China's coercive system, and the rest will not be spent. A provision of law called Kemp-Kasten authorizes the administration to withhold funding from groups that support coercive population control programs.

"UNFPA is guilty of shamelessly supporting and whitewashing terrible crimes against humanity, and the United States will have no part in subsidizing them. . .," said Rep. Chris Smith (R.-N.J.) in response to the decision. "If only UNFPA would lobby the Chinese government to prohibit forced abortion as aggressively as they lobby the United States to overturn the law against coercion, there would be less suffering in China right now. The international community should be appalled that UNFPA spends more time and energy demonizing the U.S. for providing funding to other organizations than it does in criticizing the murderous Chinese population control program."

Time's excellent piece by Hannah Beech details the horrific campaign against mothers in Shandong this year. Nine counties were targeted for birth suppression. The following gives an example of how massive and brutal the campaign was: "In the Linyi county of Yinan alone, at least 7,000 people were forced to undergo sterilization between March and July, according to lawyers who spoke with local family-planning officials," reported Time. "Several villagers, the lawyers allege, were beaten to death while under detention for trying to help family members avoid sterilization."

A local activist named Chen Guangcheng filed a lawsuit against Linyi officials for their crimes and is now under house arrest for his efforts. Chen is blind and thus was forbidden from studying law in China, but educated himself about the law anyway and has become a thorn in the side of the Communist dictatorship's Linyi branch.

Time demonstrated the power of the press. Just a few days after the article appeared, Chinese state-owned media announced the arrest of some birth planning officials in Linyi. Chen's lawsuit and the other evidence of the goings-on in Linyi didn't interest the Communist apparatchiks. Apparently, the Time article did.

The other, less brutal methods of persecuting women and their husbands who want to have more than one or two children officially continue. Fines of up to ten times the average annual household income in China, loss of employment, loss of medical benefits, and loss of education benefits for their children are among the legal penalties for parents exceeding their child quotas in China. These methods are officially promoted in China at the highest levels.

Don't count on UNFPA pulling out of China now that its efforts to moderate China's population control program have been exposed, again, as a failure. Don't count on feminist and family planning groups to stop agitating for the U.S. taxpayer to indirectly fund the forcible abortion and sterilization of Chinese women through the UNFPA. They do not favor choice for women. The only choice they are interested in is the choice to control.

Joseph A. D'Agostino is Vice President for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

(c) 2005 Population Research Institute. Reprinted with permission.

The pro-life Population Research Institute is dedicated to ending human rights abuses committed in the name of "family planning," and to ending counter-productive social and economic paradigms premised on the myth of "overpopulation."

Read the entire article on the Population Research Institute website (new window will open).

Posted: 25-Sep-05

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