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UNFPA has worked alongside the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) at least since the early 1980's, observing first-hand the "success" of the one-child per family policy, while always claiming the program was purely voluntary.
A recap of China's family planning program can be found in the September-October 2001 Population Research Institute Review. Briefly, women are not permitted to marry until age 23. All out-of-wedlock unborn children are aborted. Married couples are permitted one child, after which the woman is forced to use an IUD. Permission may be given for a second child four years after the birth of the first. Any unauthorized pregnancies are aborted. After the birth of a second child, the couple (usually the woman) will be sterilized. Those who fail to comply face imprisonment, the detention of their relatives, destruction of their homes, and/or crippling fines.
In 1998, UNFPA announced a new $20 million, four-year deal with the Chinese government, and emphasized that it would operate only in 32 counties of China where neither birth quotas nor coercion would be used (unlike the other counties, one can reasonably infer).
Those familiar with China's policy, reaffirmed in recent years, were skeptical that any counties would be coercion-free. One such skeptic is Steve Mosher, president of Population Research Institute (PRI), who has been documenting and publicizing human rights abuses in China for over two decades since he observed firsthand implementation of the one-child policy while living in a rural village in China.
Prior to the vote last Fall on UNFPA funding, PRI presented new evidence to Congress of on-going forced sterilizations and forced abortions in a county of China where UNFPA works hand-in-glove with Chinese population cadres.
PRI sent investigator Josephine Guy, Director of Governmental Affairs for "America 21", along with two translators and a cameraman, to Sihui county in the province of Guangdong. This is a county where UNFPA supports the allegedly coercion-free family planning program. It took only four days for the team to amass extensive, credible and harrowing proof of coercion in villages and family planning clinics within a few miles of the office shared by UNFPA and the county government's Office of Family Planning. Interviews were recorded on audio- and videotape, on film and in notebooks.
Among the many examples they found, a 19-year old woman was forced to undergo abortion because "she was too young to be pregnant." A woman who had become pregnant after officials had tried forcibly to sterilize her was subjected to a second forced sterilization procedure, under threat of her house being torn down. Women with unauthorized pregnancies often attempt to hide in neighboring villages or caves to avoid a forced abortion. While one woman was in hiding, nine relatives were imprisoned for four months and their homes were destroyed with jackhammers. The relatives were released only after the child's parents paid a "crippling fine" equal to about three years' wages. Cadres also conduct nighttime raids on the homes of those suspected of having unauthorized children.
UNFPA officials greeted these findings with incredulity reminiscent of Inspector Renault's line in Casablanca: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." Fearing that these revelations would provide a basis for President Bush to block funds to UNFPA, the agency unleashed a barrage of press releases and talking points to the nation's media and to influential members of Congress. Using strikingly similar language, one editorial after another warned President Bush not to hold the lives of women and children "hostage" to politics. We are told that the $34 million he may forgo sending to UNFPA "could help prevent 77,000 child and infant deaths, 60,000 maternal infections or injuries, 4,700 maternal deaths and 2 million unwanted pregnancies." Naturally, the figures are unsupported. Left unmentioned is the fact that the $34 million would simply be redirected to groups that provide the same services without lending support to coercive programs.
Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt recently analyzed the accuracy of the hysterical maternal and infant mortality predictions UNFPA and Planned Parenthood disseminate each year in their efforts to block the Mexico City policy (denying family planning funds to organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas). Eberstadt found their dire forecasts "unwarranted," "undocumentable and unsupportable" ("Bush, Abortion, and Foreign Aid," The Weekly Standard, Feb. 11, 2002). No doubt the same can be said of the current campaign's figures. Please call the White House to express your view on UNFPA funding before it's too late.
In a recent column, Richard Doerflinger explains the drawbacks of the two cloning bills, sponsored by Senators Feinstein and Harkin, which now compete with Senator Brownback's genuine ban on human cloning (S.1899):
To call these bills [Feinstein and Harkin] pro-abortion is to say too little. Current abortion laws allow the destruction of human embryos, as if they had a tenuous claim on human dignity. These proposals would require their destruction, as if they were rabid dogs.
Morally insensitive as these proposals are, they are also ineffectual in preventing even "reproductive" cloning. The bizarre and difficult aspect of cloning, the part that will take months or years of further research, is the act of producing viable embryos by this procedure in the first place. Once this is achieved, transferring an embryo to a woman's womb will take mere seconds. And once that happens, how would the birth of cloned children be prevented? By imprisoning pregnant women and forcing them to have abortions?
No, the prospect of an enforced ban of this kind is too terrible to contemplate. If it's any consolation, the sponsors of these bills may have no intention of enacting them into law. They are offering them as spoilers, to draw support away from the genuine cloning ban. When the Senate last debated human cloning, in 1998, a similar proposal was used to undermine support for a real ban–and then abandoned by its sponsors once the real ban was dead.
So to address a fundamental policy issue, the Senate may now consider proposals that are morally horrendous, legally ineffectual and politically disingenuous all at the same time. And pollsters wonder why Americans sometimes feel out of touch with their government.
Passage of Senator Brownback's Human Cloning Prohibition Act is by no means certain. Supporters of so-called "therapeutic" cloning seem to have convinced many Senators that their aim is only to rid mankind of dreaded disease by replicating cells and tissues–glossing over the fact that the desired cells and tissues originate in a cloned human embryo who is destroyed for these cells.
Almost weekly reports of new research using adult stem cells confirm their versatility, therapeutic successes and barely explored potential. Visit www.stemcellresearch.org for the latest breakthroughs. And, please, urge your Senators to support the Human Cloning Prohibition Act (S.1899, sponsored by Sen. Brownback) and reject the morally objectionable substitutes (S.1758 sponsored by Sen. Feinstein and S.1893 sponsored by Sen. Harkin).
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