(CNSNews.com) -- Local officials in China’s Shandong Province are being forced to meet an “abortion quota” each month, according to reports in Shanghai’s The Paper and the Global Times, two pro-government Chinese newspapers.
“This is evidence that the enforcers of the forced abortion policy are themselves forced,” Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF), told CNSNews.com.
WRWF, an international coalition which raises awareness of China’s coercive enforcement of its One Child Policy, issued a press release on the Chinese reports.
“That a Chinese Communist Party-related news organ issues a critical report concerning the One Child Policy indicates that support for the policy is eroding, even in official channels,” Littlejohn added.
The quotas target unmarried pregnant women and women who are pregnant with a second child in violation of China’s One Child Policy. Local officials must ensure that a certain number of these illegal pregnancies are terminated each month.
Officials from four different villages reportedly told The Paper that the Lanling County Family Planning Bureau assigns monthly quotas to ensure that one abortion is performed for every 1,000 villagers. In April, each of these officials had a quota of two to eight abortions.
One official, given the pseudonym “Xiao Xu”, said he was assigned an April quota of one abortion and a May quota of four abortions. He told the Global Times that those who did not meet these quotas “would be punished.”
“Xiao Xu” further reported that in order to avoid punishment, local officials have resorted to purchasing abortion certificates from women who have voluntarily undergone an abortion and presenting them to the bureau as evidence of meeting their quota. The officials pay doctors and middlemen between 5,000 and 10,000 yuan ($800-$1,600 USD) out of pocket for these certificates, he said.
"There is no hard copy official document. We were told of the tasks face-to-face," a village leader reportedly said.
According to the Global Times report, some local officials have tried to resign, finding the job requirements “unsavory,” but were not allowed to do so.
When The Paper first broke the story, Lanling County health authorities denied the enforcement of abortion quotas. A deputy director of the Family Planning Bureau told the Global Times: “We did not assign any quotas for abortions to villages and counties. We only asked them to take remedial actions to persuade women [with illegal pregnancies] who have been pregnant for less than five months to have an abortion.”
However, officials on the local level confirmed to the Global Times both the assignment of abortion quotas and the harsh enforcement measures which have resulted when they are not met.
The bureau has reportedly instructed a Linyi hospital to check the identity of every woman getting a pregnancy test. Women who are illegally pregnant can then be sought out by officials and escorted to the hospital for an abortion, unless they are able to pay a fine to keep the child, which is often inflated to two or three times the standard amount.
“In December 2014, local media reported that officials seized a 10-month-old baby in an effort to pressure the parents to pay the penalty for having a child outside the family planning rules,” The Global Times also reported.
Littlejohn told CNSNews.com that there are obstacles standing in the way of a condemnation of China’s human rights violations by the United Nations (UN).
“China currently sits on the Human Rights Council of the UN -- effectively blocking any criticism of them on the human rights front, and also serving to cover the human rights abuses of other nations,” she told CNSNews.com.
Despite this, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women’s (UNCSW) 2013 Agreed Conclusions called upon governments to “take action to prevent violence against women and girls in health-care settings, including . . . forced medical procedures, or those conducted without informed consent, and which may be irreversible, such as forced hysterectomy, forced caesarean section, forced sterilization, forced abortion, and forced use of contraceptives.”
“The Chinese government, moreover, is the major perpetrator in the world of “forced medical procedures” of the kind set forth in the UNCSW Agreed Conclusions. The UNCSW should put teeth into its Agreed Conclusions by presenting this complaint to the Chinese government and requiring a response,” said Littlejohn, whose group is circulating a petition to end forced abortion in China.