IF THERE IS ONE SUBJECT on which abortion-rights defenders and opponents should be able to agree, it is China. For decades, Beijing has maintained its brutal one-child policy, in which government officials force women to abort their children and undergo sterilizations against their will. Under the Communist regime, neither the right to life nor "choice" is assured.
That should make the brewing controversy facing President George W. Bushover whether to let American tax dollars indirectly subsidize China’s "population control" programmoot. Yet, somehow, it’s never quite that simple.
Last December, Congress authorized a maximum appropriation of $34 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which spends some portion of its revenues supporting China’s "reproductive health" endeavors. In the past, such appropriations cut off funding by however much the organization spent in China, thereby reducing the indirect American subsidy. This time, however, Congress struck the China provisions from the legislation, leaving the president with only one way to prevent the subsidyslashing the appropriation altogether.
The way the legislation is worded, the ultimate question of distributing the funds is left to the president. He can spend "up to" $34 million on the UNFPA, or nothing at all. The zero-funding option, in light of UNFPA’s aid to China, should be the obvious choice, for both those opposed to abortion and those dedicated to preserving its legality. Yet while pro-life groups lobby the president to withhold the payment, abortion-rights proponents, including the New York Times, Planned Parenthood and many members of Congress, urge him to make the full appropriation.
For all the talk about "choice" and "women’s health," the abortions-rights crowd seems little concerned about the prospect of U.S funds undermining both in China.
For the most part, abortion-rights champions would prefer to pretend that China’s one-child policy doesn’t even exist, or that it’s somehow less horrific than mountains of evidence suggest. In an editorial calling on the president to authorize the UNFPA payment, the New York Times sanguinely reported that "a new Chinese law includes language protecting women’s rights and forbidding coercion" in the abortion process.
That bit of legislation seemingly provides the Times with all the justification it needs to stop worrying about Beijing's true intentions, as if Communist states can be trusted to honor the rights and freedoms they nominally accord their subjects. (This from the country that professes to protect freedom of religion, even as it recently imprisoned a man for smuggling Bibles across its border.)
Planned Parenthood takes the same see-no-evil approach. It dismisses China’s well-documented violation of the "right to choose" by requiring abortions as little more than spurious "anti-choice allegations." Like the Times, it cites official Chinese statements and agreements signed with UNFPA as sufficient evidence of the country’s good behavior.
Chinese émigré Ma Dongfan tells a different story.
At a press conference with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R.- N.J.) and noted Chinese human-rights activist Harry Wu, Mrs. Dongfan recalled her experiences with "population control," Chinese style. She spoke of government officials aborting her child, giving her an IUD, and implanting her with Norplantall over her objections. Joining Mrs. Dongfan was Gao Xiaoduan, a former administrator of the Chinese government’s Planned Birth Control Office, who has admitted to participating not only in forced abortions and sterilizations, but also in the killing of live-born babiesbefore her conscience drove her to flee China once and for all.
Given the testimony of firsthand witnesses like Mrs. Dongfan and Mrs. Xiaoduan, why would the New York Times and Planned Parenthood be so quick to gloss over China’s barbaric record? Because when forced to choose between abortion and rights, the most stalwart "abortion-rights" defenders will choose the former every time.
The UNFPA is a powerful and well-funded advocate of the "reproductive rights" regime world over, pressuring Third World countries to embrace liberal Western sensibilities on sexual morality, contraception, and what abortion-rights promoters euphemistically call "reproductive health services." For abortion’s unflagging supporters, doing business with tyrants that brutalize women is a small price to pay to help spread the agenda. "Women’s health" and "choice" aren’t the overall goal; they’re means to an end.
But while it’s no secret that the abortion-rights crowd employs disingenuous rhetoric, how about President Bush?
In his January 18 proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day, Bush hailed the nation’s founders as "visionaries [who] recognized that an essential human dignity attached to all persons by virtue of their very existence and not just to the strong, the independent, or the healthy." That principle, he said, "obligates us to pursue a civil society that will democratically embrace its essential moral duties, including …caring for childrenborn and unborn."
If he’s more sincere in his choice of words than are his abortion-defending opponents, the decision to withhold UNFPA funding should be a no-brainer.