In late June, two bombshell reports provided the clearest evidence to date of China’s genocidal campaign against its Uighur ethic minority group. The coordinated articles were released by the Associated Press and German researcher Adrian Zenz. Together, they illustrate a sprawling system of involuntary birth suppression and forced abortion in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Drawing on official documents and Statistical Yearbooks, Zenz identified a massive surge in government-mandated sterilization and IUD placement in predominately Uighur areas. These efforts correspond to an unprecedented 60% decrease in the Xinjiang birth rate between 2015 and 2018, according to China’s publicly accessible data. Moreover, Zenz noted a push to halt “the interference of religion on family planning” in the largely traditional Muslim population and to increase abortion rates to reduce communities further.

The AP’s investigation backed up Zenz’s major findings of a coercive birth prevention program. With testimony from several female victims, the AP also highlighted the shocking reality of forced abortion in Xinjiang. Multiple Uighur women attested that mandatory abortions of minority babies were customary at their detention camps. Another woman confessed to a first-hand experience, retelling how Chinese officials pressured her into an abortion by threatening her family. “Medics inserted an electric vacuum into her womb and sucked her fetus out of her body,” the AP relates. Unfortunately, these stories resemble too many others, like those circulated by the Washington Post last year.[1]

Despite lack of concerted action, last month’s revelations prompted outrage throughout the West. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly excoriated China’s “dehumanizing abuses.” His British counterpart made similar condemnations, while dozens of countries lobbied the UN for a fact-finding mission. The Trump administration has taken the boldest steps thus far, imposing two rounds of sanctions against top officials in Xinjiang.

American news outlets likewise took notice of the June reports, with some openly charging the Chinese government of genocide. The Washington Post sounded off first with their editorial board bluntly announcing: “What’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide.”[2] Foreign Policy magazine put out an op-ed not long after, urging “a formal declaration of genocide.”[3] Newsweek then followed with a similar piece, which lamented a Chinese reiteration of the Holocaust.[4]

The starkest recent evidence of genocide in Xinjiang presumably would be systematic forced abortion. As relayed by both public documents and personal accounts, unborn Uighur babies are now being killed routinely, reflecting standard policy. The gravity of these abuses is made clear by the agonized mothers. The woman who testified to the AP about being coerced to abort mourned the loss of her and her husbands’ “only baby.” In the Washington Post’s report, another bereaved mother attested that, “Two humans were lost in this tragedy, my baby and me.” To the often religious parents targeted, the Chinese government’s involuntary abortion campaign took the lives of “humans” through acts of murder.

However, neither Foreign Policy, Newsweek, nor the Post even intimated that the destruction of the unborn counted unqualifiedly towards China’s atrocities. In their discussions of genocidal murder in Xinjiang, both Foreign Policy and Newsweek ignored the killings of Uighur babies. Instead, they approached forced abortion essentially as evidence of “demographic genocide.” The Washington Post did the same, while avoiding any talk of Uighurs causalities altogether.

Regrettably, in the face of the horrors recounted by survivors, the censure that these liberal organizations can offer is limited by their pro-abortion commitments. Indeed, as is common in the industry,[5] each one is fervently opposed to idea of personhood prior to birth. In Foreign Policy, for instance, one can read that the ethics of abortion hinge on “a woman considering her own body,” not on “a new human being.”[6] The two phenomena are somehow “worlds apart.” In another article, the restriction of abortion is simply “a form of discrimination” that negates at least nine different rights, none of which apply to the unborn.[7]

For Newsweek, even “when the fetus is viable,” and admittedly, a “baby,” he or she still isn’t protected from arbitrary elimination.[8] According to Newsweek’s friendly interview with a late-term abortionist, a legally ambiguous “compelling reason,” as determined by abortion providers, can justify killing healthy third-trimester babies. The Washington Post, besides publishing pro-abortion content sometimes on an hourly basis, has put forth multiple op-eds scorning the possibility of pre-born personhood up to the moment of birth.[9] For one opinion writer, Prof. Carliss Chapman, the proposition that “personhood begins in utero” becomes just too “absurd” on legal grounds. How would we manage due process? [10]

Ultimately, if an unborn baby is not a person, what is the seriousness of forced abortion? To the aforementioned publications, ending a pregnancy almost never causes the extinction of a human life, provided the mother is protected. In this way, there isn’t anything fundamentally different about forced abortion compared to other coercive methods of birth prevention. Liberal journalists – staunch in their refusal of pre-born rights – must therefore minimize the worst abuses in Xinjiang. Hence, the Washington Post editorial board, for example, ends up basing their assessment of genocide not on the slaughter of the most vulnerable Uighurs, who are bitterly mourned by their parents. Rather, like Prof. Chapman, the editors take shelter in legalism, whereby China’s atrocities are such mainly due to Section D of Article II of a UN treaty from 1948 (which China doesn’t fully recognize). While trying to send a message to the CCP, the American journalistic left is sending a stronger one to Uighur mothers: “Your grief is ridiculous. Your babies were never real anyway.”

 

[1] “Abortions, IUDs and sexual humiliation: Muslim women who fled China for Kazakhstan recount ordeals,” Oct. 5, 2019.

[2] “What’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide,” July 6, 2020.

[3] “The World’s Most Technologically Sophisticated Genocide Is Happening in Xinjiang,” July 15, 2020.

[4] “Xinjiang Shows We Haven’t Learnt a Thing from Auschwitz,” July 23, 2020.

[5] “A new push to define ‘person,’ and to outlaw abortion in the process,” LA Times, Sept. 28, 2009; “Opinion: Treating a Fetus as a Person,” New York Times, January 5, 2019; “A fetus isn’t a person, despite state’s rhetoric to the contrary,” USA Today, December 22, 2018.

[6] “The Abortion Trap,” July 27, 2011.

[7] “The Trump Administration Is Erasing Reproductive Rights at Home and Abroad,” Oct. 23, 2018.

[8] “Why LeRoy Carhart Won’t Stop Doing Abortions,” August 14, 2009.

[9] “How an anti-abortion push to redefine ‘person’ could wind up hurting women,” October 28, 2011.

[10] “If a fetus is a person, it should get child support, due process and citizenship,” May 17, 2019.