From death’s door to leading the fight against China’s one-child policy
TORONTO, Ontario, 30 October, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – It wasn’t until Reggie Littlejohn, a highly successful litigation attorney, found herself nearly on her death bed that she felt strangely drawn to pray for women who were “worse off” than she was. And not just for any women, but for victims of China’s one child policy.
Littlejohn, the founder and president of Women’s Rights without Frontiers, sat down with LifeSiteNews last week and shared the dramatic story of her journey to become one of the most recognized voices in the battle against China’s oppressive policy.
A decade and a half ago, Littlejohn recounted, she was more concerned with advancing her law career than with the plight of women on the other side of the world. But it was during this time that she represented a Chinese woman seeking political asylum in the USA.
“She had been forcibly sterilized,” explains Littlejohn. “At the time, I knew that China had a one child policy, but I did not realize that it was currently enforced through forced abortion, forced sterilization, and even infanticide, the killing of infants.”
Littlejohn said that the Chinese woman’s sufferings were “gripping” to her because of the pain she herself had experienced at the loss of two babies through miscarriages.
“I knew what it was like to lose a baby that you wanted,” she said.
Not many years after this encounter, in 2003, Littlejohn suffered an infection that almost took her life.
She had discovered lumps in both her breasts and opted to have them surgically removed. But the surgery and new implants caused a staph infection that doctors could not control.
Littlejohn’s life hung in the balance.
Doctors were compelled to remove one of her new implants and pump medication directly into her heart. The 10-week treatment worked, but Littlejohn was left a broken woman, a shell of her former self.
“I went overnight from somebody who was a supervising attorney in a major law firm to someone who was flat on her back crying out to God to spare my life.”
It was during this time that Littlejohn began to pray for the women of China.
The severity of the infection incapacitated Littlejohn for five years. During her recuperation, she says she became “almost obsessed” with tracking down information about the one child policy.
But she could find no “comprehensive analysis” of the effects of the policy. All she found was “data rubble - a fact here, a fact there,” she says. But she describes the emerging picture as something “horrific” and “repugnant.”
“First of all, you’ve got a government, a brutal totalitarian regime that regards women’s bodies as being the property of the state and who exercises a reign of terror over the entire nation, extending its arm from Beijing to every womb in China to declare life or death over that.
“Then you’ve got the forced abortion that follows from that up until the ninth month of pregnancy. Sometimes the forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die along with their full term babies.
“Then you have forced sterility.”
Littlejohn also realized that a “coercive birth limit” in a culture that favored males resulted in the “unintended consequence” of selective abortion of baby girls.
She saw that China’s gender imbalance of 37 million more men than women resulted in a thriving industry that trafficked women and girls for sex. “What are you going to do with 37 million frustrated men? Women and girls are trafficked.”
She now began to see why, with women and girls being treated like chattel, every day, 500 Chinese women committed suicide, the highest female suicide rate of any country in the world.
“I realized in one appalling moment that all of these consequences of the one child policy are causally connected,” she said.
“These are like a series of dark dominos that are falling all from the one child policy. We’ve got the coercive birth limit that leads to forced abortion that leads to gendercide that leads to sexual slavery that leads to female suicide.”
Littlejohn had managed to put a complex Chinese puzzle together, but she had not yet shared her research with anyone. All that changed when Littlejohn heard of a conference planned at the European Parliament to examine the state of Chinese human rights as a lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
The conference organizers had a list of issues and experts, but nothing was included on China’s one child policy.
“I did something I have never down before or since: I wrote the president and said: ‘Great list of experts, great list of issues. How come no one is speaking about the one child policy?’”
But the president of the conference, an expert himself on human rights in China, told Littlejohn that the one-child policy was abandoned years ago.
“The lawyer in me kicked in and I started pounding him with documents, saying: ‘What about this? What about that? What about this document? What about that document?’”
The president conceded and asked Littlejohn if she would like to come to the conference, all expenses paid, and be their expert on the one child policy.
“I was sitting there in my little red pajamas, still not completely recovered from my illness, and practically fell over backwards by this invitation,” she said.
Littlejohn changed her pajamas for a business suit and went before the European Parliament to speak on behalf of Chinese women suffering under the one child policy.
“All of a sudden, I went from somebody facing death on my sickbed to being an internationally recognized expert on China’s one child policy, without any intention of becoming this myself.”
She learned at the conference that nobody in the West had dedicated their lives to helping Chinese women.
“That’s when I knew that if no one else was going to do it, I guess that I would.”
Since then Littlejohn has testified before Congress, addressed the European Parliament, briefed the White House, met with officials from British Parliament and the United States Department of State, and has brought her findings before the Vatican.
She recently led the international coalition to free blind activist Chen Guangcheng, the outspoken critic of forced abortion in China.
Littlejohn believes that the movement to help Chinese women is something that everyone can get behind.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-choice or pro-life, nobody supports forced abortion because it’s not a choice,” she said.
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View LifeSiteNews’ Video Feature on Reggie Littlejohn in 3 parts.
China’s ‘horrific and repugnant’ puzzle pieces, Part 1/3
Littlejohn describes her unlikely rise to becoming the internationally recognized voice for women suffering under forced abortion in China.
The ‘miracle’ of Chen Guangcheng’s escape, Part 2/3
Littlejohn describes her role in freeing blind activist Chen Guangcheng, the outspoken critic of forced abortion in China.