LOS ANGELES—Qiao Shunqin, a former elementary school teacher from Kaifeng, Henan Province, still recalls the cruel pressure she faced more than two decades ago. She was nine months pregnant and determined to save her baby the night before she was scheduled to have a forced abortion.
Her son now lives in the United States; he is 24 years old and 6 feet tall. He came here to study and later joined the U.S. military. His mother says he treats his parents with respect, perhaps because he knows his life did not come easily.
Qiao had a child from her first marriage, but when she divorced, the court gave her ex-husband custody of the child. Her second husband also had a child, but his ex-wife had been given custody.
According to the one-child policy at that time, because the couple did not have custody of their respective children, neither was considered to have exhausted their one-child allowance, so Qiao applied for a birth license. Only after it was approved by several different officials and offices, including her school principal, and the district Family Planning Office, did she prepare for a pregnancy.
In June 1988, after she had been married for two years and was over eight months pregnant, the school principal told Qiao that the new director of the district Family Planning Office, Sui Yajie, did not think she should be permitted to have a second child. She was therefore asked to have an abortion.
The family planning office, the school principal, and her boss took turns to visit and pressure her. For her to go against the family planning office would reflect negatively on the performance reviews from her boss and her school principal. “I just wept silently,” she said.
Ms. Qiao requested to have the abortion in Zhengzhou, where her parents and in-laws lived. On July 5, 1988, she went to the obstetrics department of the People’s Hospital of Henan Province under duress. The family planning director and school principal asked the doctor to abort the fetus immediately.
The doctor saw that Qiao was almost ready to give birth, and at age 38, was a mature woman with heart disease. To avoid complications, he insisted on first conducting a complete examination. By the time he finished, the out-patient division had closed for the day, and the abortion was rescheduled for 8 a.m. the next day.
Qiao returned to her in-laws’ home, arriving after 9 p.m. She knew the baby, kicking and moving inside her, would be killed the next morning. Nine years earlier she had been forced to have an abortion when she was seven months pregnant. That time, a toxic solution was injected into her uterus, and four hours later, she lost a baby girl. The horrific experience was still fresh in her mind.
She was determined to keep her child this time. She held her stomach as if holding the child in her hands, and began repeatedly hitting her back against the wall, but did not feel any change after about one hour, aside from perspiration and back pain.
She decided to change her approach, and placed newspaper on the concrete floor with blankets on top. Then she held her stomach, and began jumping down from the bed onto the floor. Every time she jumped, she held her breath and then climbed back up again. It grew more and more difficult, but she persisted. She prayed the child would be born soon, while worrying that too much movement would hurt the child. Her husband and mother-in-law looked on in horror, but did not dare stop her.
At about midnight, Qiao’s water broke–the baby was coming.
To avoid any issues, Qiao used a fake name, age, and work unit when registering at the hospital. Five hours later at 6 a.m., her son was born.
After the birth, the director of the family planning office blamed her for not telling them sooner, “If you had informed us, we could have given the baby a toxic injection and killed him, and you would not have to lose your job for violating the one-child policy.”
These chilling words brought deep fear to Qiao. “For several years after that, I had dreams that someone was chasing me and trying to kill me and my child. We ran and ran for our lives. In my dreams, I held my child tightly for fear he would be taken away,” she said.
Qiao was fired from her job, even though she was rated an excellent teacher and in the prime of life. Her husband’s salary was stopped for more than a year, and he was demoted from government official to factory worker. They therefore had to rely on assistance from their families.
For over 20 years, Qiao traveled to different appeals offices to try and get her job back. However, she did not receive a response and was repeatedly humiliated. An official from an office in Henan Province even told her to “just go jump off a building and drop dead!”
From childhood, Qiao had grown up in a Communist Party-controlled environment and had truly believed in the Party. She said, “Because of the one-child policy, I turned from an activist promoting the Party to a vehement opponent of the Party.”
Since being reunited with her son in the United States, Qiao has publicized statements severing all ties with the Chinese Communist Party, including the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers.
Translation by Li Zhen. Research by Jane Lin. Edited by Nicholas Zifcak and Cassie Ryan.
Read the original Chinese article.
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