Horrifying reports of a woman forced to have an abortion draw attention yet again to the dangers of China’s one-child policy. Authorities have apparently apologized to the victim and suspended those responsible for violating her rights, but far greater action is needed.
All champions of human rights must openly condemn China’s one-child policy and the illegal practices of forced abortion and coerced birth control reported in some localities. The continued oppression of Chinese families through coercive reproductive policies must end.
Women everywhere should have the right to determine if, when, and how often they have children. Likewise, all women deserve quality health care, during and following pregnancy, for both themselves and their families. When women have access to quality health care, they lead more empowered and fulfilling lives.
The global community adopted this human rights-based approach in 1994, when world leaders met at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and agreed that ensuring women’s reproductive rights was an essential component of promoting broader sustainable development.
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Too often, though, women’s health is not treated as an issue of human rights.
In some parts of the world, including China, world leaders have yet to adopt an integrated approach to address these problems at their root cause. The only way to truly eradicate coercion is to treat the underlying conditions that perpetuate oppression of women.
Planned Parenthood fights every day, in the U.S. and through our partnerships around the world, for more comprehensive policies in support of women’s health and rights. We advocate for comprehensive health services, including access to voluntary family planning programs. We oppose legislation that restricts a woman’s ability to make important medical decisions for herself. We support legislation like the International Violence Against Women Act and the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act, which enhance our ability to prevent and respond to gender-based violence at home and abroad.
And we support the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization working in 150 countries to improve the health, rights, and lives of women and their families, including working to reform harmful policies in China.
With the support of more voices from the global human rights community, we can put an end to coercive practices in China and everywhere they take place, and promote policies and programs that empower women, rather than oppress them. Until we succeed, Planned Parenthood and our partners will continue to fight for the essential privacy and rights of women and families no matter where they live.