The Real War on Women

The internet can create strange bedfellows. A generation or two ago, when the media might have excused itself for missing a massacre or two – like the millions under Pol Pot while Cambodia was “out of range” (all eyes being on Viet Nam next door!) – today it is not so easy. What is happening in China is but a mouse-click away.  Not necessarily to the edification of the Chinese government or, for that matter, the U.S. State Department, both of which as of this writing are mum on an inconvenient truth. The apparent escape of Chinese dissident Cheng Guangcheng from house arrest is poised to create mutual embarrassment, though for different reasons. Why are both sides so tongue-tied? Is it because of the truth that Cheng’s activism threatens to reveal?
The American political circus still finds time to whip contention over the lack of government guaranteed insurance of contraceptives, sterilization and certain abortifacient drugs into a putative threat to women’s wellness. Ludicrous enough an insult as this may be to our intelligence, it is ironic that women in China have yet to be convinced that they even need these “benefits” that many American women are portrayed in the media as demanding cost-free. A genuine threat to the freedom, dignity and health of women lies in the one-child policy of the Chinese government, which is all too eager to enforce such services.
What consequences to the services in question might a freed Cheng reveal that the governments find so ominous? In China, large families have long been regarded as a blessing. The Chinese seem to require more persuasion to reduce the birth rate than their American counterparts. Cheng discovered that officials were forcing parents of two children to be sterilized, while women carrying their third baby were being compelled to have abortions. Ironically, options held in American law to be a woman’s to choose are being forced on women by law in China against their will. This is a real “war against women!”
Sadly, many Americans seem unaware that they are also supporting this war. Forced abortion and sterilization in China have been funded for years through the U.N. Although nominally opposed, the current administration in 2009 ordered the funding back to the UNFPA after an amendment had barred it six years earlier. Under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Congress increased federal funding to UNFPA to $55 million.
Last August Vice President Joseph Biden, who was in China attempting to revive the financial image of the U.S. from its first-ever downgrading, failed to condemn the one-child policy in China. While expressing demographic concerns that the policy might reduce the amount of wage-earners supporting an aging population, he disappointed human rights advocates by his mention of the merely economic consequences. “Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second-guessing – of one child per family,” he said. As a nation founded on the right to life and liberty, we need to muster more moral courage than such Nixonian sounding pragmatism.
If our nation wishes to rise to reach its potential for leadership in the world, we need to consider what our policy priorities say to a world where news travels via the internet almost instantly. What kind of message do we send the world when a so-called entitlement to free contraceptives and sterilizations becomes a rallying cry for women’s health and freedom while we minimize or ignore the violence of abortion here or abroad? Every abortion, after all, is a forced abortion, an aggressive action against two victims, the mother and her child. Violence is not diminished because one of the victims consents to it, any more than physical or emotional abuse ceases to be abusive because it is tolerated, acquiesced to or goes unreported.