Chinese authorities succumbed to international pressure, especially from U.S. politicians, and will not force a six-month pregnant woman to undergo an abortion procedure.
Arzigul Tursun, a Uyghur Muslim living in the remote northwest region of China, was released from the hospital in Xinjiang on Nov. 18 where she was being held captive. The soon-to-be a mother of three told Radio Free Asia shortly after her release: “I am all right and I am at home now.”
Tursun was supposedly released because the head of the local population control committee deemed that her health condition was not good enough to have an abortion.
However, authorities had held her in hospitals with the intention of forcing her to have an abortion for nearly a week with no acknowledgment that her health would be in danger if she underwent an abortion.
Population control officials had even threatened to seize her family’s land and home when she ran away twice to save her baby. Tursun, with the understanding that her two other children might be homeless if she did not return, went back to the hospital on her own the first time and was brought back by her husband and authorities the second time.
Her husband had explained that he helped find his missing wife because he considered that their two daughters would be homeless if their mother did not return.
Under Chinese law, the majority Han population is only allowed to have one child, but urban minority couples are allowed two children while rural farmers can have up to three children under the country’s enforced population-control policy.
Tursun is registered as a rural household, which allows her to legally have up to three children, but her husband is registered in an urban area so under him they can only have two children.
Officials apparently decided to use the husband’s registration and told her she must have an abortion because she already had two children.
In the United States, congressmen were outraged at news that China was forcing a woman to have an abortion, even as the international community watched on.
Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the House Ranking member on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) wrote a letter to China’s ambassador to Washington to demand that “the nightmare of a forced abortion” be stopped.
U.S. ambassador to China Clark Randt, with the urging of the two congressmen, talked to a Chinese foreign ministry official, according to RFA.
Tursun’s release from the hospital is due partly or largely because of the U.S. officials’ effort.
Congressmen Smith and Pitts called Tursun’s release “great news for both her family and women throughout China.”
“The decision to spare Arzigul and her child from the tragedy of forced abortion is, we hope, a sign that more women in China will be saved from this grave human rights abuse,” they said in the statement.
China’s population control policy has resulted in a serious gender imbalance in the country. Most Chinese parents abort girls because they hold the opinion that girls will be married off and won’t take care of the family or carry the family’s last name. China had 120 males born for every 100 females in 2005, according to the U.N. Population Fund.