A Mother’s Ordeal

One Woman's Fight Against China's One-Child Policy

Steven W. Mosher

Paperback, 335 pages.

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Do you want to understand the experience of the abortionist and the pregnant mother?

Do you want an inside view of family life in China?

A Mother's Ordeal is the captivating true story of a Chi An—a young nurse in China at the start of the one-child policy.

At first, Chi An willingly enforced China's brutal "one-child-per-family" law, participating in forced abortions, compulsory sterilizations, infanticide, and other population control nightmares.

But when Chi An herself became "illegally" pregnant with her second child, the horror of what whe had done to enforce China's population control law began to dawn on her. 

Chi An's story is frightening, sad, gripping and spellbinding. It's a story you won't soon forget!

"A superb storytelling collaboration, Mosher and Chi An illuminate a barely believable situation known only superficially by the rest of the world." —Booklist

"Chi An’s life stands as witness to a place where liberty does not exist, and a journey to a place where liberty is discovered." –— Acton Blog

"Fascinating…A Mother's Ordeal bears witness to the terror that can accompany daily life in today's China. While more information about China's brutally restrictive policies is steadily coming to light, it is unusual to have as an informant a nurse who was both victim and victimizer … Chi An and Mr. Mosher have not only told the story of one mother's ordeal; they've recounted the nation's ordeal too." —Wall Street Journal

Excerpts from the book

“…The official was staring at me impatiently. ‘Please pay attention,' she ordered. 'To repeat what I was saying, the current policy is that every couple can have no more than two children. To further reduce the birthrate, these two children must be at least four years apart. You must obtain a permit from your unit before you get pregnant. And you must contracept until you receive a birth permit. No exceptions are allowed to any of these conditions. Do you agree?’

‘Yes,’ I said quickly, ready to say anything.

‘Have you thought about how you are going to contracept?’ I heard her say.

This is going too far! I thought to myself. Wei Xin and I had never even kissed, and here we were being asked how we were going to avoid getting pregnant!…”


“….Gone were our days as itinerant doctors, traveling from village to village, treating peasants for every ailment under the sun. Now we rarely left the commune medical clinic, where we performed an endless series of sterilizations and IUD insertions. We no longer used our portable X-ray machine to diagnose cases of tuberculosis but only to search out missing IUDs.

The IUD itself, manufactured of steel showed up in the middle of a fuzzy gray uterus as a crisp white butterfly—if it was where it was supposed to be. Sometimes, over the course of a day, our technician would X-ray as many as a hundred women. Whenever an IUD turned up missing, we replaced it immediately….”


“….I recognized the handwriting as my mother's. It read:

'Dear daughter,

   Disregard my other letters. They were written under pressure. I want you to have this baby. When Director Huang ordered my to write you that you should return to China for an abortion, I did as I was told. But inside I was on fire with anger. She is treating you exactly like a pig to be shipped to the slaughterhouse. In my heart I want to have another clever grandchild.

   Do not worry about me. I am fine. Do not come back to China. Stay in America, and start a new life. I repeat: Whatever happens, don't come back.


About the Author

Steven W. Mosher is an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author and speaker.  An experienced field researcher and polyglot,  Mosher speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Spanish, German, and Dutch as well as  English.

Mosher completed a course in the Chinese language program of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and has a Masters in both Anthropology and East Asian Studies from Stanford University. 

In 1979, Mr. Mosher traveled to China to conduct anthropological research in rural China.

While in China, Mosher witnessed women suffer forced abortions under the new “one-child policy.” With the cries of the Chinese women ringing in his ears, Mr. Mosher left academia for a tireless career of fighting coercive population control.

Contact us

Media Coordinator: Contact for press questions or to schedule Mr. Steven Mosher for an interview.

Anne Roback Morse: anne@pop.org, (540) 660-2733

Fulfillment coordinator: Contact for questions about book orders

Mary Harrington: (540) 660 – 5967

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