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Yang Pingan’s Story

Some years ago I wrote a book called, A Mother's Ordeal, detailing the dramatic fight of a young Chinese mother to save her unborn child. On my recent trip to China, I encountered a mother of four whose ongoing story is every bit as gripping. Here, in broad outline, is what she told me.

My mother is an abortionist. She finished her government training shortly before my father died in 1986. Over the past 23 years she has done thousands of abortions, including three on me. Yes, my mother has aborted three of her own grandchildren.

I fought to save each of my children but, with my mother pressuring me on the one hand, and the government officials threatening me and my husband on the other, it wasn't always possible. I got married in 1992 to a wonderful man, and I gave him a son in 1993. Everyone, including my mother, was very happy. But then I became pregnant again the following year. The population control police came and demanded that I pay a fine and terminate the pregnancy. We couldn't afford to pay the fine, so they tied my hands behind my back and took me to the village square. There they tied me to a tree and kept me under watch. I was young—only 23—and scared, so it wasn't long before I gave in.

My mother, the abortionist, ended my baby's life.

I became pregnant a third time in 1995. Again the authorities demanded that I abort this “illegal” second child, and again I gave in. Once again, it was my own mother who aborted my child. But this time was different. This time I vowed to never, ever again give in to an abortion. I swore that I would do everything possible to protect my unborn child.

So it was that when I became pregnant a fourth time, I did not tell my mother. Instead, I hid my pregnancy until I was taken in for the compulsory sonogram. All of the women of the village of childbearing age had to have sonograms every few months. It was the way that the population control police discovered illegal pregnancies. I was afraid that the compulsory sonogram would reveal my condition—I was already four months pregnant—but this didn't happen. Instead, the two health clinic workers looked at the image and miraculously reported that I was not pregnant!

When my mother, two months later, realized that I was actually pregnant, she was furious. She gave me a massive dose of RU-486 but nothing happened. I gave birth to a healthy baby boy a couple of months later.

I was afraid to bring him home for fear of what the officials would do, so I left him in the care of friends in a neighboring village. Instead, I went to an abortion clinic and, in return for a bribe, obtained the body of a baby girl who had been aborted at eight months, I returned home with this dead baby in my arms, praying for the repose of her soul as I walked back to my village,

When the officials came for me, I showed them the dead baby. They assumed that it was my newborn daughter who had died, and went away satisfied.

Another problem soon arose, however, this time in the village where I had left my son. Word had gotten around that there was a newborn baby boy in hiding there. Because of the one child policy, baby boys are worth a lot of money in China today. Someone came forward and offered to pay 10,000 Chinese dollars for my baby. My mother was eager to sell him, but I refused.

Afraid that he would be kidnapped, we brought him home. The officials eventually found out, and we had to pay a heavy fine. It was about three years' income.

In 2004, Pingan and her family were baptized into the Catholic Church. She has since had two more children and is currently once again in hiding from the population control police.

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