China Still Using Coercive, Late-Term Abortions

July 7, 2008 - 7:07 PM

CANBERRA -- Late-term forced abortions were still being carried out in China as recently as last year, a Chinese gynecologist and obstetrician has told an Australian parliamentary committee.

In evidence to the committee, the doctor, now an Australian resident, said she performed seven-and-a-half-month abortions when working in a Chinese public hospital between 1983 and 1989.

The doctor, known only as Dr Wong, also showed the committee a photograph of an unborn child in a bedpan coercively aborted at six-and-a-half months.

She said there were many coercive techniques. Men could lose their jobs if their wives got pregnant with a second child. Government officials sometimes bargained with women to get abortions then failed to deliver on their promises afterwards.

``Some have physical force, emotional force and psychological force applied,'' she said. ``In the hospital, you can see [the forced abortion policy] every day.''

She talked about women being taken from their workplaces and forced to go to hospital.

``It is really hard. You see them screaming. You see them being dragged. You do not feel as if they are human beings ... Maybe I think I am not human too.''

The Senate legal and constitutional committee, which held two hearings in Melbourne last week, was set up to examine Australia's refugee and humanitarian program, including the case of Ms Zhu Qing Ping, who was forced to have an abortion after being deported from Australia to China.

Senator Brian Harradine from Tasmania brought the case of Ms Zhu, one of Australia's boat arrivals sent back to China in 1997, to light. Refugee advocates say the eight-months-pregnant Ms Zhu was forced to have an abortion upon her return and questioned how the Australian Government, knowing about China's one-child policy, could send a pregnant woman with
one child back to China.

The Immigration Minister, Mr Philip Ruddock, also set up an inquiry, headed by the former head of the Defence Department, Mr Tony Ayers, to look at the case.

Dr Wong told the committee she returned to China in 1997 and 1998 and was told by a former colleague in a public hospital that late-term and forced abortions were still occurring.

She told the committee: ``Yes, they are still doing it. Nothing has changed. The number of abortions with larger pregnancies has been reduced but they are still doing it.''

In her time at the hospital, she said she performed up to 10 abortions a shift. ``I am deeply sorry for what I did to these women," she told the committee.

Dr Wong's first application for refugee status, when she fled to Australia as an overseas student in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square massacre, was refused in 1993 but she reapplied successfully in 1994.

The second child, called a ``black child'', was denied accommodation, jobs, medical care and education, she said.

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