Book review: ‘A Mother’s Ordeal – One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy’
Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, has written a book that is brutally truthful and brutally hard to read. It should be: it’s about the most brutal of government policies, China’s one-child policy.
Written in the first person, Mosher writes as “Chi An,” a young woman he first met in 1980. While he has changed certain facts and names in order to protect the woman he gives voice to, the story of her life in China is intimately true.
Chi An’s life begins in 1949 or so – because she was a girl, there was no celebration of her birth, and her mother did not bother to note the exact date. She grew up with two brothers, enjoying a loving childhood with a father who doted on her. Her professor-father shielded his family from the most difficult issues of the time: the gradual disintegration of liberty under the rising Communist regime. With her father’s untimely death, the family struggles to survive, nearly starving to death in the early 1960s, due to harsh government control of food distribution.
Chi An decided to go into nursing, and at the age of 16, performed her first abortion. It would be the first of countless abortions she would perform.
Chi An married and she and her husband happily welcomed a son early in their marriage. At this time, the Maoist regime still allowed more than one child, but this allowance quickly ended. Unfortunately for Chi An and her husband, her second pregnancy had to be aborted or, as the government put it, “remedial actions were taken.” That phrase was one Chi An would repeat over and over to other women facing “unauthorized” pregnancies.
While Chi An mourned the loss of her pregnancy, her husband was granted permission to study in the United States. Chi An and their son stayed behind, and Chi An became the nurse for a Chinese truck company. While her job was ostensibly to maintain the health of the female workers, it really consisted of talking women into abortions and then performing those abortions. The company had a birth quota; anything above that required “remedial measures.” If that meant locking a woman in a closet until she complied, so be it. If that meant dragging a woman from her home for “compliance,” so be it. Abortions were performed at every stage of pregnancy, and babies were often killed after birth as well. There were quotas, remedial measures and death…but never compassion.
Chi An eventually earned the privilege of joining her husband in the United States on a visa. Shortly after arriving here, she became pregnant. The reach of the Chinese government knew no boundaries: she was ordered by her company to abort the baby. Her family in China was threatened; she and her husband were threatened. The pressure to abort was relentless, but Chi An refused, desperately seeking a way to keep her baby.
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When she and her husband sought asylum, it was refused. The couple met Steve Mosher through a friend, and their attorney worked with him to fight for the couple to remain in the States and continue the pregnancy. Asylum was eventually granted, and Chi An and her husband continue to live in the U.S., along with their son and daughter.
This book is hard to read; it’s callous and brutal and disgusting. The horror of Chi An’s “profession” comes to life in the chapter entitled “The Little-Boy-Who-Wouldn’t-Die.” A young girl, at full term, was forced to abort her baby. One doctor, then another, plunged formaldehyde into the baby’s brain in the birth canal, but still the baby was born, struggling for breath. The doctors left the baby, mother and Chi An alone in the clinic room. Chi An recounts:
I frantically set to work caring for the exhausted mother, lifting her legs down from the stirrups, sponging her off with cool water, arranging pads to catch the steady flow of blood, finding a pillow for her head. But there was nothing I could do for the baby. I could only keep my eyes averted from its contorted little face. And, as best as I could, I shut out the sounds of its cries and whimpers, which only now began to weaken.
The little boy took half an hour to die.
As difficult as this book is to read, it is important to do so. While the Chinese government has lifted some restrictions, forced abortions remain commonplace. Chi An’s story, while gripping, is only one in millions of stories – stories of children never born, born but not allowed to live. Chi An’s life stands as witness to a place where liberty does not exist, and a journey to a place where liberty is discovered.
Reprinted with permission from The Acton Institute