Now that Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident, is settling into a new life in
Chen had dedicated much of his life to campaigning against involuntary abortions, sterilizations, tubal ligations and other means to forcibly prevent women from having a second child.
Well, in the U.S., right-to-life advocates in America's fevered, never-ending abortion debate have seized on Chen as if he were one of their own. The National Right to Life Committee is citing him in fundraising appeals.
But the truth is, these people grossly misunderstand him.
"The political issue of abortion is completely different here,"
Of course most everyone knows about
Among the world's largest countries,
For most others, however, the government aggressively tracks fertile women. It used to be, Beach said, that government workers "tried to track menstrual cycles, and that may be still happening in some villages."
In early June, photos of a woman who was seven months pregnant and forced to have an abortion went viral on Weibo and other Chinese social-media sites. One picture showed the dead fetus in a bucket of water.
"Our country is run by animals," a typical commenter said.
That late-term abortion got lots of attention, but, as most Chinese know, it's far from unusual. Yang Zhizhu, an associate professor of law at
"Mandated abortions employ violence and coercion," he wrote. "There are 'population schools' that illegally detain the parents, grandparents and husband of the pregnant woman, or even the woman herself, in order to force them into 'willingness.' Neighbors, too, will scare the pregnant woman into 'willingness,'" sometimes by vandalizing her home. (China Digital Times translated his blog.)
Yang's government report showed that in 2009, the most recent year cited, the state carried out 22.8 million "contraceptive surgeries," meaning any invasive birth-control procedure -- sterilizations, abortions, vasectomies and the rest. It's hard to believe that many of these were voluntary (except for those thousands of parents who choose to abort their unborn daughters).
Chen, in his many interviews, is quick to inveigh against
Over and over, Chen has said bringing the rule of law to his country is his highest priority. For him, the abortion debate in
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