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Why Kemp-Kasten Must be Preserved: New Evidence of Coercive Abortion in China and UNFPA Support

June 4, 2003

Volume 5/ Number 16

Dear Colleague:

It is hard to believe that anyone with an ounce of humanity would oppose the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. This law, which has been on the books since 1985, forbids U.S. funds from going to any organization or country that participates in a program of forced abortion or sterilization. Noncontroversial, right? Wrong. There is a move afoot by UNFPA partisans to gut Kemp-Kasten in order to restore funding to the world’s largest anti-people organization. Yet new evidence from China leaves no doubt that coercion in that country’s one-child policy remains the order of the day even in those areas where the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

operates. The UNFPA’s claims that coercion has ended, and that serious reforms are under way, are baseless. Kemp-Kasten must be preserved. The UNFPA must not be refunded.

Steven W. Mosher


Why Kemp-Kasten Must be Preserved:New Evidence of Coercive Abortion in China and UNFPA Support

For the past five months, PRI investigators have been actively investigating coercive abortion in China’s one-child policy. They have carried out extensive interviews with both officials and doctors involved in the policy, and have gathered a series of internal government documents. Their findings make for gruesome reading:

  • One former Chinese official, now residing in the U.S., said that at

    provincial hospitals, pre-born babies are often delivered alive then killed. The policy is “for the nurse to take the baby as soon as the baby came out, alive or dead, and place her hand over the baby’s mouth… [t]hen… place the baby into a garbage can filled with water, to drown the baby.”

    • According to another Chinese doctor, China’s health bureaucracy

    regularly “slaughters infants” while carrying out the one-child policy. According to this witness, the babies of one-child policy victims are also delivered alive, then “taken back from the Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital. When the infant is born, the nurse will take it away right away, and won’t let its mother see it and know if it’s living or dead.”

    • A third doctor reported that live-birth infanticide is performed in

    China as part of the one-child policy so that the “living cells [of the baby] can be embedded into patients through surgery” for experimental treatment of diabetes. Experimental procedures are also done by “injecting the tissues processed of infants” into Parkinson’s patients. “There are nurses on duty for 24 hours every day. Often the infant will cry out. I have seen this myself for some time. If the infant’s organs are needed… the surgeon will take the baby’s organs out. The nurse will put the head of the infants to the pail full of water, then the organs and cells will be taken out. The corpses are put into the boiler to burn out.”

    China’s response to reports of such atrocities, when it does not deny them altogether, is to claim that they are merely local aberrations. Yet our witnesses unanimously maintained that they were part and parcel of national policy. All hospitals and abortion facilities in China are subject to what one witness termed “the same national program involving coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization today without change.” Coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization are carried out “in compliance with a series of code words such as: preserving the ‘legal education’ [of children] and the ‘marriage age’ [of men and women]. … Family planning is ‘basic national policy,’ and the Ministry of Health serves a leading administrative role for carrying out China’s population program, and carries this out with the State Family Planning Commission.”

    What of the UNFPA’s claim that its “model family planning counties” are free of such abuses? Medical officials stated to PRI that China’s coercive population program remains in place in all regions, without exception for UNFPA’s so-called model programs. We specifically asked a senior health official if central regulations enforcing China’s coercive one-child policy cover all provinces, counties and cities within the PRC, including UNFPA model counties. The answer: “Yes, of course. Definitely.”

    This is further confirmed by a series of confidential documents — now in PRI’s possession — recently issued by China’s central bureaucracy regarding the implementation of the one-child policy. One of these documents deals specifically with “Technical Services for Planned Births”

    — that is to say, with abortions, sterilizations, and contraceptive procedures — and leaves no doubt that everyone (from hospitals and medical personnel down to ordinary individuals) is required to abide by these rules. Those who don’t will be punished, asserts the document, which goes on to specify in great detail the kinds of punishments that will ensue. This and other documents explicitly state that they are applicable everywhere “within the borders of the PRC.” No exception for the UNFPA is mentioned.

    UNFPA claims that it is a catalyst for reform of China’s one-child policy. Our witnesses denied, often heatedly, that this was the case. In the words of one, “These [UNFPA’s] claims are impossible.” All hospitals and abortion facilities in China, including those within UNFPA model counties, stated one doctor, “are subordinate to, and managed by… the central Ministry of Health. . . . I have become aware of claims made by the United Nations Population Fund and the Government of China. They say UNFPA is helping to bring ‘reproductive freedom’ to certain counties in China. I remain in contact with doctors in China. These claims made by the United Nations Population Fund are false.”

    Rather than being a catalyst for reform, it would be more accurate to say that the UNFPA is a catalyst for a twenty-five year cover-up.

    Independent of PRI’s recent China investigation, Radio Free Asia recently interviewed witnesses, officials and victims of coercive abortion in UNFPA’s model county program in Korla City, Xinjiang Province, China. On audiotape, family planning officials state that the local birth control policy demands that stiff fines be levied to force a woman to undergo an abortion. If the woman refuses to pay the fine, officials state, they “won’t allow her to bear [the] baby.”(1) If someone has an illegal pregnancy, a second official states, “We forcibly make her abort her child.”(2)

    None of this seems to matter to UNFPA’s congressional supporters who, rather than attempting to reform this runaway organization, are instead attempting to gut the very law that stands between it and the federal trough. Population control/abortion enthusiasts on the House International Relations Committee last month succeeded in including language in the Committee Report that would render Kemp-Kasten toothless.

    The new language states that UNFPA will be funded if the “President certifies to the Congress that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) does not directly support or participate in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization” [italics added]. It goes on to reveal its true purpose by providing a hefty $50 million for the UNFPA for 2004 and 2005 in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2004-2005 (H.R.1950).

    No one argues that UNFPA employees in China are doing forced abortions and sterilizations themselves, only that they collaborate with a regime that does, thus facilitating these human rights abuses. This is sufficient, under the current law, for the President of the United States to deny them funding.

    The U.S. should not fund groups that are working hand-in-glove with China’s population control machine. This is why the effort to gut Kemp-Kasten should be turned back. This is why the UNFPA should not be refunded.


    1. Radio Free Asia, “Family Planning in Uyghur Region,” March 17, 2003, ; pnm://

    2. Ibid., RFA.

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