China orders hospitals to abort, kill newborn babies of religious and ethnic minorities

A couple takes pictures with their baby on the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China, November 2, 2015.
A couple takes pictures with their baby on the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China, November 2, 2015. | Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Hospitals in Xinjiang were ordered by China’s Communist government to abort and kill all babies born in excess of its mandated family planning limits — including newborns born after being carried to full term — or face hefty fines, claims a new report.

Hasiyet Abdulla, a Uighur obstetrician who worked in multiple hospitals in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region for 15 years, told Radio Free Asia that maternity wards implemented strict family-planning policies intended to restrict Uighurs and other ethnic minorities to three children.

“Every hospital had a family-planning unit that was responsible for implementation — who had how many kids, when they’d given birth to them — they tracked all of this,” she said.

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“The regulations were so strict: there had to be three or four years between children. There were babies born at nine months who we killed after inducing labor. They did that in the maternity wards, because those were the orders.”

Abdulla told RFA that babies were aborted even if their mothers were “eight and nine months pregnant,” adding that in some cases, medical staff would “even kill the babies after they’d been born.”

Babies who had been born at the hospital outside of family-planning limits weren’t safe either, she said, adding doctors would “kill them and dispose of the body.”

“They wouldn’t give the baby to the parents — they kill the babies when they’re born,” she said.

“It’s an order that’s been given from above, it’s an order that’s been printed and distributed in official documents. Hospitals get fined if they don’t comply, so of course they carry this out.”

Previous reports have revealed how the Communist Chinese Party has forcibly sterilized, aborted, and taken other measures to reduce the birthrates in Xinjiang. 

A June study by Adrian Zenz, scholar and chronicler of Beijing’s atrocities in Xinjiang, documented how CCP officials placed fines on Uighur women who had three or more children and forced women to undergo mandatory pregnancy tests, implantation of IUDs, or sterilization surgery.

He calculates, based on information from Chinese public websites, that the population growth had declined by 90% between 2014 and 2019, noting that despite the persistence of the one-child policy for 40 years in mainland China, the Uighurs' population growth rate is lower than the national average.

In Guma County (Pishan) and Hotan city, doctors performed sterilizations 143 times the national average, according to Zenz. Before a “dramatic spike” of sterilizations in 2016 that has continued into the present, Uighur birthrates were typically higher than the national average and sterilizations much lower.

A Uighur woman named Bumeryem from Toquzaq township in Kashgar’s Kona Sheher (Shufu) county who fled the region for Turkey in 2016 told RFA that in 2004, she was forced to have an abortion while pregnant with her fourth child around halfway through her second trimester.

“[The family-planning cadres] told me I had to get an abortion because the pregnancy was my fourth, and they gave me an injection through my belly button — I paid 200 yuan (U.S. $29) [for the procedure] myself,” she said.

“[The cadres] took me [to the hospital] and did the abortion at five months,” she said.

“It was a boy. We could find out [the sex] at five months. … If my baby who was aborted were alive today, he’d be 15 years old.”

Bumeryem told RFA she recovered in a room with other women whose babies had been aborted at seven and eight months, as well as full-term.

“There were women there in even worse situations than mine,” she said. “I lay in my bed and cried.”

The RFA report comes as China has faced increasing international criticism over its treatment of Uighurs and other minorities in Western China.

Estimates suggest that over 1 million to as many as 3 million Uighur Muslims and other minority groups in Western China have been subject to internment camps in Xinjiang. 

A recent report documented how the religious minority has been subject to massacres, mass internment camps, torture, organ harvesting, and disappearances in addition to forced birth control and sterilization. The report also highlights the forcible transfer of children from their families to Chinese state orphanages or boarding homes. 

In June, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom argued that the forced sterilization of Uighur Muslims is “evidence of genocide.”

“It’s evident from the Chinese government’s own data that the Communist Party’s policies are clearly designed to prevent population growth for the Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic Muslim peoples,” USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel said in a statement.

“We urge the State Department to investigate whether the Chinese authorities’ deliberate and systematic attempt to genetically reducing the Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang meets the legal definition for genocide as contemplated in the Genocide Convention.”

In a statement to Fox News, Morgan Ortagus said the U.S. State Department is “extremely concerned by reports of forced abortions and sterilization in Xinjiang.”

"These reports are consistent with an overwhelming and growing body of information that exposes the Chinese Community Party’s campaign of brutal repression targeting Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. We reiterate our call on the PRC [People's Republic of China] government to reverse its repressive course in Xinjiang, release all who are arbitrarily detained, and to end its draconian and brutal policies to forcibly indoctrinate and intimidate its own citizens."

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