March 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New data from China’s health ministry has revealed that approximately 330 million abortions have been performed in the country since 1971, according to AFP

According to Chinese government researchers, currently about 13 million abortions occur annually, or about 1,500 every hour on average.

As well, over the past 40 years Chinese officials have sterilized nearly 200 million men and women, and inserted 400 million intra-uterine devices.

Under China’s one-child policy, which was introduced in the late 1970s, Chinese couples are allowed to have only one child, although in some circumstances rural couples may be permitted to have a second, if the first is a girl.

The policy is enforced through brutal forced abortions and sterilizations, and the levying of crippling fines, sometimes amounting to several times a family’s annual income. 

Concerns have been mounting, including in China, that with a rapidly aging population as well as a significant gender imbalance due to the prevalence of sex-selective abortion, the one-child policy is setting the country up for economic and social collapse.

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While there has been a great deal of speculation in recent months that the country may be considering abandoning the policy, Chinese officials have repeatedly reaffirmed the country’s dedication to the policy. 

According to Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights without Frontiers, the newly released numbers, as devastating as they are, “do not come as a surprise.” 

“The Chinese Communist Party announced in 2009 that they have 13 million abortions a year,” she told LifeSiteNews.com, “so if you multiply that out over the span of the policy, 336 million would be a realistic approximation.” 

Littlejohn said, however, that the government statistics are far from complete, failing as they do to differentiate between voluntary and forced abortions and sterilizations. 

“Of these 336 million abortions, how many women were dragged out of their homes, strapped to tables and forced to abort babies that they want, up to the ninth month of pregnancy?” she said. “How many women died as a result of these violent procedures?  And of these 336 million abortions, how many were selectively aborted because they were girls?”

Littlejohn cited one incident in April of 2010, when officials in Puning city set out to sterilize 9,550 people. Those who refused were detained.

“Such large statistics boggle the mind and mask the hundreds of millions of individual broken lives caused by this brutal Policy,” said Littlejohn.

The human rights activist, who has dedicated her life to fighting the one-child policy, pointed to the well-known case of Feng Jianmei, who was forced to abort at seven months last year. A photograph of Feng lying next to the body of her aborted child following the abortion rocketed around the globe thanks to social media, drawing an international outcry. 

“Forced abortion and involuntary sterilization are violence against women,” said Littlejohn. “China will not be free until the women of China are free.”