Euro MPs Condemn Forced Abortion in China, Call for Probe into EU Funding of Chinese Family Planning

Patrick Burke | July 5, 2012 | 6:04pm EDT
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The European Parliament holds plenary sessions in Strasbourg, France, 12 times a year. (Photo: European Parliament)

( – The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday condemning forced abortions and sterilizations that take place in China, as well as the “one-child” policy under which the abuses take place.

“Infanticide, which is the killing of just-born babies as well as the massive sex-selective abortions that take place in China are happening in the context of the one-child policy,” Marietje Schaake, a Member of European Parliament (MEP) from the Netherlands, said during a plenary session of the Strasbourg, France-based parliament.

“These sex-selective abortions have led to a deviation of expected demography of as much as 40 million – I just want to repeat this – 40 million missing girls,” she said.

Schaake referred to the recently publicized case of 23 year old Feng Jianmei, who was forced by Chinese authorities to have an abortion because she was unable to pay the 40,000 Yuan ($6,270) fine for having a second child without governmental permission.

Photos of Feng lying in a hospital bed alongside the body of her baby daughter sparked outrage in China and internationally, drawing fresh attention to the issue of forced abortions in China.

During Thursday’s debate, several other MEPs, including Roberta Angelilli of Italy and Connie Hedegaard of Denmark, also spoke out against forced abortions in China as well as the communist regime’s one-child policy, which has been in place since 1978.

Tensions rose when French MEP Marie Christine Vergiat said the debate surrounding abortion was “misplaced” within the context of forced abortions in China, after two of her colleagues asked her to clarify her own pro-choice position.

“This debate on the right of life of a fetus is an old refrain of all those who are against abortion,” said Vergiat, according to an English translator. “I am in favor of the right of women to freely dispose of their bodies. I maintain that point of view. Stop this misplaced debate. Behave in a dignified fashion when we’re having an urgent debate on human rights.”

“We are talking about lives of women who are dying in China because of laws that are not properly applied,” she continued. “If we have laws that respect the rights of women, let’s ensure they’re implemented but don’t try and introduce through the back door another debate which has nothing to do with this one.”

Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (Photo: European Parliament)

The resolution “strongly condemns” the actions taken by the Chinese government with respect to Feng Jianmei, in addition to forced abortions and sterilizations, particularly within the framework of the one-child policy.

To highlight the role played by the Internet in focusing attention on the issue in China, the resolution also emphasizes the importance of freedom of expression and public debate.

The resolution also notes that “the E.U. has provided, and still provides, funds for organizations involved in family planning policies in China,” and goes on to urge the E.U.’s executive Commission “to make sure the E.U. budget does not fund any organization or entity directly or indirectly involved in coercive family planning policies.”

In a statement welcoming the resolution, Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, lauded the MEPs’ call for an investigation into whether European funding might be associated with coercion.

“The [U.N. Population Fund] UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) work hand in hand with the Chinese population control machine, which is coercive,” she said. “I have no doubt that the investigation by the European Parliament will reveal that these organizations are complicit with forced abortion in China.”

“I hope that this courageous action by the European Parliament will serve as a model for governments all over the world to join the outcry against forced abortion in China, and to stop funding it,” Littlejohn added.

U.S. law prohibits federal funding for any agency that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”  Based on that provision President Bush defunded the UNFPA from 2002 to 2008, but President Obama reversed the move soon after taking office.

The UNFPA strongly denies that its programs in China supports coercive practices.

As reported by earlier this week, Hu Xia of Hubei province was taken to a hospital on June 19 and forcibly given an injection to induce a miscarriage. At the time, Hu was nearly eight months pregnant with a baby girl.

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