Women's Rights Without Frontiers president Reggie Littlejohn has said in prepared remarks that both the pro-choice and pro-life movements can work together on ending the practice of forced abortions in China. The remarks are to be delivered on Thursday before Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at The Heritage Foundation in Washington.
"Few issues divide more sharply than abortion. Longstanding friendships and even family relationships can rupture over the pro-choice/pro-life debate," Littlejohn noted in her remarks.
"But on the International Day of the Girl Child, can we agree to bury the hatchet on two issues: the ending of gendercide, the sex-selective abortion, abandonment, deadly neglect and murder of females just because they are female; and the ending of forced abortion, which is not a choice?" she asked.
The group has been campaigning against China's one-child policy, which in September marked its 34th year anniversary. Littlejohn has written an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and said that the policy has caused "incalculable suffering to hundreds of millions of women and families in China."
Littlejohn pointed on Thursday to U.N. estimates that said that close to 200 million women are missing in the world today due to selective abortion, as well as abandonment or deadly neglect of baby girls.
"This is not a pro-choice or a pro-life issue. This is a human rights issue that must be approached as an area of common ground. No one supports the systematic elimination of women and girls," she continued.
The WRWF president noted that "forced abortion is not a choice," and criticized the Chinese government for its methods that enforce the one-child policy.
"More often than not, gendercide is not a choice either. There is a strong correlation between sex-selective abortion and coercion. Crushing social, economic, political and personal pressures in cultures with a strong son preference trample women carrying girls. All too often, women in these cultures do not 'select' their daughters for abortion. They are forced," she added, and pointed out that gendercide has led to an estimated 37 million more men than women in China today.
"A woman need not be dragged out of her home and strapped down to a table to be a victim of forced abortion. Persistent emotional pressure, estrangement from the extended family, threat of abandonment or divorce, verbal abuse, and domestic violence often overpower women who otherwise would choose to keep their daughters," Littlejohn said.
International Day of the Girl Child was established by a United Nations resolution in 2011, designating Oct. 11 as a day to promote the rights of girls and raise awareness for the challenges that they face.
Each year, the IDGC has had a different theme. In 2012 in focused on ending child marriages, and in 2013 the theme was "Innovating for Girls' Education."
UNICEF stated that the theme "Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence" has been chosen for 2014, and will seek to recognize the importance of empowering adolescent girls and eliminating the violence that they face.