By Sarah Ryan
Implemented in 1979, China’s One Child Policy does just what its name would suggest: forcibly limit couples to have only one child. The policy was enacted in response to China’s purported overpopulation. Through excessive fines, forced abortions and sterilizations, the policy is strictly and violently enforced by China’s Family Planning Commission. Reflecting a society with a preference for sons, the government can force a woman to undergo a sex determination test for her unborn child and upon female results, force her to have an abortion at any point during pregnancy. This preference has led to the deaths of tens of millions of unborn girls. The society-damaging consequences of their deaths, however, echo even further beyond the tragedy of each abortion.
One of the leading promoters of population control and contraception, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), claims to disapprove of the growing surplus of male births as a result of son preference and sex selective abortion. One of their organizational aims is actually to ensure that “every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.” However, their continued funding (and indirect support) of coerced abortion through their alliance with the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China, and their praise of the overall decrease in Chinese birthrate only perpetuates the growing disrespect of unborn life, particularly of unborn females. With the One Child Policy reaching its thirtieth anniversary, there is now a surplus of males reaching reproductive age with no women to marry. According to a recent study, the number males under the age of 20 exceeded the number of females by more than 32 million in 2005. In some provinces, 130 males are born for every 100 females.
This discrepancy is aiding the human-trafficking industry through the import of brides from neighboring countries and the objectification and selling of women within China, often by their own families out of financial desperation. The wives these men would have had were aborted decades ago.
It has been estimated that 24 million Chinese men of marrying age will find themselves lacking wives in 2020. Men that have no wife or children are referred to as “bare branches” in Chinese culture, as nothing is attached to them and they will bear no fruit. Historically, there is a correlation between an imbalanced sex ratio and increased violence. Valerie Hudson writes in Bare Branches that these unmarried men characteristically commit more violence, belong to a lower socioeconomic class, and are more prone to the influence of illegal drugs and alcohol. She notes further that marriage is a significant predictor of a decrease in illegal and violent behavior. The trafficking, objectification, and selling of young women and girls in China is only one example of the effect that 24 million “bare branches” coming of age in China will have in the coming years.
In addition to the impact on men (increased depression and isolative behaviors) women are suffering as well. Under constant watch by the 400,000 employees of the Family Planning Commission, and subject to humiliating and invasive investigations, women of China are often denied the right to give birth to their children. Often, women from groups in America such as Silent No More talk about regret and depression that follow their abortion and they share symptoms of what is known as Post Abortive Syndrome (PAS), a condition with symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In China, the tragic reality is that it is not uncommon for officers of the family planning police to strap women down and, without anesthesia, abort their children. The traumatic experiences women endure—some women report being forced to abort as many as five children—surely lead women into a delicate psychological state, with symptoms of both PAS and PTSD.
It should come as no surprise, then, that China has an irregularly high female suicide rate. Studies have shown that PTSD and suicide have been linked. In China, 500 women commit suicide every single day. Women are 25% more likely to commit suicide than men in China; in most developed countries men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. The rate of suicide and the denial of women’s rights as mothers indicate the impact of abortion on women. Looking at China’s abortion and suicide rates, it seems that in a country with more abortions, where any form of choice is a foreign concept, one might expect to see more female suicides.
In the United States, the argument surrounding the abortion debate is often characterized as being about whether women should be granted the right to choose to have an abortion. On the other side of the world, and on the other end of the spectrum of “choice” is a similarly disturbing debate – whether women should be granted the right to choose life. Concerns about an overpopulated planet aside, the sad truth of the destruction caused by abortion is becoming harder to ignore or to spin. A culture is destroyed by abortion, beyond just the terrible act. About 35,000 times a day, China’s culture is tainted by the spilling of innocent blood and China’s women are destroyed at the hands of the state. Mother Teresa said that any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but rather to use violence to get what they want. I have to wonder what she would say about a country that not only accepts abortion as the United States does, but demands it, as is done in China.