A Chinese couple whose baby is due Sept. 10 were told to have an abortion or lose their jobs at government institutions, according to the Shanghai news outlet Sixth Tone.
The couple, who are identified only by their surname Zhong, each have a child from a previous marriage. Since Communist China’s shift last year from a one-child policy to a two-child policy, most provinces have formalized rules for remarried couples, allowing them at least one child together even if they have children from previous marriages.
The Zhong family’s province of Guangdong, however, has not established new rules.
“We thought we had met the new criteria to have a child, and that if we didn’t take immediate action, we might never be able to conceive a baby again,” Mrs. Zhong told Sixth Tone.
“I can’t give up on this child, as I’m almost 40. And it wouldn’t be easy for us to find jobs again given our ages,” said Zhong, whose husband is 43.
“Our hearts go out to the Zhong family. They are brave indeed to stand up to the intense government pressure to abort at eight months or both lose their jobs,” said Reggie Littlejohn, president of the international human rights coalition Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, in a press release.
“The Chinese Communist propaganda machine made a big deal out of its shift to a Two-Child policy, announcing that they had abandoned the One-Child policy. I immediately stated that this minor modification would not end coercion, and now the proof is beginning to leak out,” said Littlejohn.
He Liping, another Guangdong woman mentioned by Sixth Tone, is six months pregnant and faces not firing but a fine of around 260,000 yuan ($39,000). This is only her second child, but her husband had a child before marrying her.
“It’s a huge amount of money for an average family like mine,” He told Sixth Tone. She also said her neighbors suggested she change her legal residence to another province where her child is allowed.
“I had no idea that we’re not qualified to have a second child until I went to register for a birth permit with the local neighborhood committee,” said He.
Littlejohn calls this fee a “terror fine.”
“These fines can be up to ten times a person’s annual salary,” said Littlejohn. “Most people cannot afford to pay these fines and are forced to have abortions.”
“In addition, the Chinese government announced earlier this year that they had abolished the birth permit system for first and second children. Clearly, this is not the case,” she said.
“The Chinese Communist Party has not agreed to get out of the bedrooms of the Chinese people,” said Littlejohn. “The fact that Sixth Tone is a State-controlled media outlet indicates that even within the Chinese Communist Party there are those who recognize the human tragedy and appalling injustice of coercive population control.”
Qiao Xiaochun, a professor at the Institute of Population Research at Peking University, told Sixth Tone that the Guangdong officials might just be taking longer to change the rules for their province than the rest of the country.
An unnamed staff member at the Guangdong Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission reportedly told Sixth Tone that new regulations are coming within a few months, but would not say whether the rules would be in favor of remarried couples having more children or not.