Radio Free China

Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Husband and Wife Victims of China Forced Abortion Permitted to Seek Asylum in US: Federal Appeals Court

Posted by radiofreechina on June 8, 2007

By John Jalsevac

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 7, 2007 ( – A man and his wife are permitted to seek asylum after the woman underwent a forced abortion in China, the San Francisco based 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court decided on Wednesday.

Zi Zhi Tang (“Tang”) and his wife Li Zhen Tang (“Li Zhen”) were previously refused asylum by an Immigration Judge after the judge determined that the couple had not sufficiently proved that the abortion that Li Zhen underwent was truly “forced.”

The Federal Appeals Court, however, overturned the Immigration Judge’s decision, determining that Li Zhen had undergone a “forced” abortion and that this permitted both her and her husband to seek asylum.

The court used as the basis of its decision the precedent, previously established, of granting asylum to those who had undergone forced sterilizations, saying that “a forced abortion is sufficiently like a forced sterilization that it ‘likely result[s] in statutory entitlement to asylum eligibility and withholding of removal.”

According to court documents, the couple, living in China at the time, discovered that Li Zhen was pregnant in 1980. However, because the couple was under the legal age for marriage, the book-keeping company for which Li Zhen worked ordered her to undergo an abortion immediately. The following day Li Zhen was taken to the Fun Tsang Company’s women’s clinic. Her husband testified that his wife “cried and screamed but it didn’t help.”

“They just abort the baby without anesthesia and I can hear my wife screaming,” he said.

In 1991, however, Tang, who was a carpenter, was sent to the U.S. territory of Guam. Tang and his wife overstayed Tang’s work visa, at which point Tang requested asylum, on the basis of China’s forced abortion policy, and the abortion that his wife had undergone. Tang’s request was denied after the Immigration Judge determined that Tang and his wife had not taken sufficient measures to avoid the abortion for it to be deemed “forced”.

The Appeals Court, however, determined that “the events, as described by Tang, are more than enough to establish that Li Zhen was ‘forced to abort [her] pregnancy,’” pointing out, amongst other pieces of evidence, that “the abortion was performed without anesthesia, a particularly barbaric exertion of authority.”

“A woman who has had a forced abortion has experienced unwanted governmental interference into one of the most fundamental and personal of decisions: whether she will have a child. The effects of that intrusion last a lifetime,” wrote Judge William Fletcher in the Court’s official decision. “In addition, the governmental infringement on a woman’s bodily integrity during a forced abortion results in, as one Congressman described it, ‘one of the most gruesome human rights violations in the history of the world.’”

Earlier this year, thousand of Chinese peasants rose in revolt against China’s one-child policy. Despite a radically disparate ratio women to men in China, however, with girls being routinely aborted in favor of boys, and despite international condemnation of the inhuman policy, Chinese officials have expressed their intention to keep the policy in place.

See related coverage:

Thousands of Chinese Peasants Riot over Brutal Birth Control Campaign

Husband of Chinese Forced Abortion Victim Cannot be Refused US Asylum

U.S. Court Grants Asylum to Chinese Couple Threatened with Forced Abortion


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