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Chinese unveil “mobile abortion clinics”

Delegates to the 23rd annual meeting of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) were treated to a macabre sight during their 11-17 meeting in Beijing. Chinese government officials drove one of the brand new “mobile abortion clinics” up to the parking lot of the building where the conference was being held. Delegates leaving their session were able to stop by the van’s open rear doors and behold its small bed, suction pumps and body clamps up close.1

“We plan to make 600 of these buses to travel around the countryside,” said Zhou Zhengxiang, the “vice general manager” of the van’s manufacturing company.

Human Rights advocates fear that the mobile clinics represent a further escalation in China’s war against its own people’s fertility, a war which has been characterized by forced abortion, sterilization and IUD insertion.

“I think the need for body clamps in this thing speaks for itself,” said Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute. “Women doing something voluntarily do not need to be held down with clamps.”

Chinese government officials, as usual, denied the practice of forced abortion in the countryside, but this time their denials flew in the face of more candid admissions by the Chinese government from only a few months ago.2

The news of 600 mobile abortion clinics may indicate a split policy on population control in China. Early in October a Japanese newspaper reported that 640 Chinese cities have been allowed to permit couples living within city limits to have two children instead of the usual one.3 The report cited the demographic reality of an aging urban population as the reason for the alleged policy shift.

1 Reuters, “China displays abortion van at population meeting,” 15 October 1997.

2 PRI Staff, “Chinese admit policy is coercive,” PRI Review, July/August 1997, 13,

3 Nikkei English News, “China to phase out one-child population control policy,” 2 October 1997.

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