A woman from Anhui province in eastern China has died after her husband forced her to undergo four sex-selective abortions in a single year, according to reports from the Daily Mail, the South China Morning Post, and Huanqiu.com.
The woman, who goes by the name Yueyue, after giving birth to a daughter four years ago, was compelled to undergo abortion each time ultrasounds revealed she was carrying another girl. Yueyue’s husband was adamant that their next child be a boy.
Due to China’s oppressive two-child policy, couples are not allowed to have more than two children. Couples who violate the government mandated two-child limit are often punished with crushing fines equal to several times their annual disposable household income.
“The real culprit here is the two-child policy,” says Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute and veteran human rights advocate who has long worked to expose human abuses under China’s planned birth policies, “were it not for the two-child policy that is being ruthlessly enforced by Beijing’s population controllers, this mother would still be alive.”
“The state had given this couple an ultimatum: only two children and no more. The tragedy that resulted is being reenacted with grim regularity all over China,” Mosher says.
Strong son preference, still culturally prevalent in much of China and other parts of the world, has produced an epidemic of sex-selective abortion where unborn girls are specifically targeted for abortion. According to the United Nations Population Fund, 117 million girls have gone missing in Asia and Eastern Europe due to sex-selective abortion.
Yueyue became bedridden as her health deteriorated following repeated abortions. Rather than caring for Yueyue, her husband instead filed for a divorce.
Facing worsening health, Yueyue accepted a 170,000 yuan ($26,050) divorce settlement. Yueyue subsequently used the money to seek medical attention at a Shanghai hospital where she later passed away. Yueyue leaves behind a four-year old daughter.
Yueyue’s husband did not visit once during her hospital stay. Yueyue’s former husband reportedly now plans to buy a car and marry another woman. The police are reportedly investigating the case.
The Chinese Communist Party has promoted abortion as a means of population control ever since the release of the results from its 1953 census. In 1957, in an effort to curb population growth further, the Chinese Government removed most restrictions on abortion. The Communist Government’s implementation of planned birth policies since the 1970’s set limits on the number of children couples were allowed to have, with fines and forced abortion for couples who exceeded their birth quota.
Mosher believes that the decades-long implementation of population control policies have overall diminished the value of life and human rights in China of which Yueyue’s tragic case is just one example. “Prior to the planned birth policies, abortion was unknown,” Mosher says, “the two-child policy like the one-child policy, is responsible for the rise in coercion.”
Yueyue’s case is not is the first. In 2015, another woman in Guangdong province by the name of Chen died after being forced by her mother-in-law to undergo nine abortions, according to the Daily Mail. After giving birth to three girls, Chen’s mother-in-law had insisted she bear a son.
Although sex-selective abortion and prenatal sex determination are illegal in China, the law has done little to stop sex-selective abortion from occurring. Human rights advocates have long warned that China’s planned birth policies have exacerbated the extent to which sex-selective abortion is practiced.
Sex-selective abortion in China has led to unnaturally male-biased sex ratios. According to data from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, the sex ratio at birth in China is 115 boys for every 100 girls, the most skewed nationally representative sex ratio in the world today.
 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2002). Abortion Policies: A Global Review. New York. Sales No. E.02.XIII.5. available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/profiles.htm.