Apple embroiled in forced-abortion controversy: China employees given pregnancy tests
BEIJING, September 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Escaped Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is leading international opponents of forced abortion in calling upon the world’s largest company to end compliance with the China’s one-child policy.
Family planning police have targeted employees of iPhone creator Apple Inc. in the Chinese factories that churn out the company’s products. Fully 24 Apple facilities conducted pregnancy tests to ensure workers were not illegally pregnant, according to the technology giant’s own internal investigation this year. It also found 56 facilities did not have policies or procedures prohibiting coercive family planning measures.
The report noted that Apple “classified these practices as discrimination—even if permissible under local laws,” and said suppliers had halted the pregnancy screenings at the direction of corporate leaders. “We also required them to establish clear policies and procedures to prevent recurrence,” the report stated.
Chen and other human rights leaders last week sent a letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook that included last year’s Congressional testimony from Chinese woman Liu Ping, who described the fear and violence in her factory under its own Family Planning Commission.
“By order of the factory’s Family Planning Commission, every month during their menstrual period, women had to undress in front of the birth planning doctor for examination. If anyone skipped the examination, she would be forced to take a pregnancy test at the hospital. We were allowed to collect a salary only after it was confirmed that we were not pregnant,” Ping said. “When discovered, pregnant women would be dragged to undergo forced abortions—there simply was no other choice.”
The admission was enough to alarm forced-abortion opponents, who questioned Apple’s commitment to ending the practice. One leader noted that the company “has been auditing its facilities since 2006.”
“Why, then, is it still the case that pregnancy testing is reported as rampant?” said Women’s Rights Without Frontiers President Reggie Littlejohn, the U.S.-based leader instrumental in Chen’s dramatic escape into the U.S. last April. “Either Apple’s requirement that these practices must stop is new, or its policies to implement it are ineffectual.”
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Chen, who escaped extralegal torture and house arrest by Chinese officials for decrying forced abortions under the one-child policy, told Bloomberg that it was crucial Apple refuse to comply with the abusive program.
“Apple in China should take a very active role,” Chen said. “There’s a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple.”
The leaders also petitioned Apple to “leverage its clout” in China to demand the end of human rights atrocities such as forced abortion, and release political prisoner Liu Xiaobo.
“This courageous act by Apple on behalf of the many people who are suffering horrific human rights abuses would have an incalculable impact to further the cause of human rights in China,” wrote leaders.
The issue of forced abortion in China became a thorn in the Communist Party’s side this year, when ghastly images of the one-child policy’s effects exploded across the internet shortly after Chen’s escape to U.S. soil. These included a picture depicting a forcibly aborted woman lying next to her baby’s body, and another showing a full-term child drowned in a bucket of water.
Bloomberg notes that two spokesmen for the Chinese embassy in Washington have not responded to requests for comment.
Littlejohn said that there must be more information on the fate of women discovered with “illegal pregnancies” while manufacturing Apple products.
“We want to know what has happened to women at Apple factories when they have been found to be pregnant without a birth permit. Have they been referred for a forced abortion or involuntary sterilization?” she said. “With the one child/forced abortion law in place, how can Apple assure consumers that its products are made in facilities free of coercive population control?”