CHONGQING CITY, China, September 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A U.S.-based leader in the movement against forced abortions in China says a Chinese official’s recent claim that the barbaric practice has been effectively banned is undoubtedly another in a long list of false promises from a Communist government struggling with a public relations crisis.

A member of a family planning committee in Chongqing City in Southwest China told the advocacy group All Girls Allowed (AGA) that officials in late August issued a new protocol under order from Beijing prohibiting forced sterilization and late-term abortions as a means of enforcing the country’s notorious one-child policy.

“Parents must make their own choice. We will not use forced abortion,” the official said, according to the group. AGA said the official did not give a precise release date for the Beijing memorandum supposedly behind the new protocol.

The group said that when the National Population and Family Planning Commission held its semiannual meeting in July, Minister Wang Xia called upon family planning policy to “absolutely stop performing late-stage abortions,” saying they should only “guide people to do family planning voluntarily.”

While some applauded the statement, Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and a key figure in the release of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, says the new protocol isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

“China has not banned forced abortions.  I have no doubt that there are women in China being forcibly aborted at this moment,” Littlejohn told LifeSiteNews.com in an email Friday.

Littlejohn criticized the statement for applying only to late-term abortions - the source of gruesome photographs that shook the Internet with outrage when they went viral this year -  and noted that the country wouldn’t be where it is now if the technical rules actually applied.

“Forced abortion is already officially illegal in China, yet it happens all the time,” said Littlejohn.  “In January 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao told Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen that China had no forced abortion policy.  Yet, since that time, we have received many credible reports of forced abortion.”

Littlejohn cited her group’s July 31 complaint to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on the fate of five Chinese women who suffered forced abortions under the one-child policy this spring and summer.

Meanwhile, she said, the fact that the government still imposes crippling fines as an alternate punishment for “illegal pregnancies” means that “those who cannot pay will feel forced to abort against their wishes.”

“Only when the Chinese government stops issuing abortion and sterilization quotients, and stops evaluating officials’ performance on the basis of reaching population control targets will we believe they are serious about ending forced abortion in China,” said Littlejohn.