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Thursday, 30 July 2009

Anti-child culture?

Two things recently have made me think about how anti-child our culture is.

The first was not long after we had moved house. Little Girl and I had a picnic in the front garden. She had finished and was "exploring" in the still wild bits while I was still finishing my lunch. Quite a lot of people walk past our house and a man who lives up the road stopped and started talking to Little Girl. (I had to reply for her because she tends to be shy with strangers.) You could tell that he liked children and I would have thought it a bit weird if it wasn't for the fact that he was obviously foreign (he said later on that he was German).

Later on I was pondering about this and two thoughts struck me:
1) It is generally expected in our culture that only women should be interested in children and not men(unless they are their own children).
2) The European countries which I would think of as places where everyone likes children (such as Italy and Spain) are predominantly Catholic countries. (I'll talk about the significance of this later.)

The second thing which got me thinking was a discussion about children on a forum I frequent. The person who started the thread doesn't want children. She and her boyfriend have planned their life based on never having children but she was getting all stressed because he'd recently said that he wasn't absolutely 100% sure he never ever wanted children. Having children would apparently mess up all the plans they had for the future. Now the really interesting bit was her feelings about children which came out as the discussion went on. This is what she said:

"The kids that I have been around seem to be having fun with their parents- I don't know enough about kids to judge it.

My experiences of these kids, however, is that I can't stand them being around. I hate the thought of them being incontinent. I hate it when they touch me with their dirty hands. I can't stand their incessant babbling about rubbish. The sound of them crying or laughing goes through me like nails on a blackboard. I hate all of the adults at a social event have to be really aware of their behaviour (e.g. I went to a BBQ on Saturday and had to try and hold loads of stuff (which seriously impeeded (sic) my eating and drinking capabilities) that I would otherwise have left on the floor because someone decided to bring their kid along and I didn't want my stuff to be broken or eaten by it). I hate the way they put your stuff in their dribbly gobs."

Along with hating pretty much all characteristics of children in general, she hates the fact that if someone brings their child to a social event you need to be careful what you leave lying around.

Now can you imagine your average Italian saying something like that?

If people have large families and have their children over a long period of time (which your average person in a Catholic country would do) then there are always children around. You will always have either younger siblings or your own children or nieces and nephews. (Or if you were from a small family for whatever reason you would have friends with little brothers and sisters etc.) If you are used to children being around all the time you are less likely to suddenly think that they are a nuisance that stop you from doing things how you would prefer.

In contrast if everyone has only one, two or three children fairly close together then most people will be used to a life which doesn't include young children. (I appreciate that some people with few or even no children have not done so by choice but I am talking about what is the norm i.e. what the majority in our culture chooses to do.) People will talk about a small age gap being good because you "get it over with" more quickly. As if raising children is something to be "got through". Some people even claim that to choose to have a child is unethical (How many children in Africa could be fed/clothed for the cost of your child? How much of the world's resources will your child use? We are already overpopulated as it is.) but God tells us to ""Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth"

I wonder what attitudes to children were like before contraception was widely available?

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 19:14

Monday, 27 July 2009

My Web Wanderings (weekly)

  • tags: pro-life

    • We already knew many of the gruesome details of the PRC coercive population control program. We knew, for instance, that the government routinely imposes exorbitant fines on couples who had, ''unauthorized'' children, sometimes amounting to three or four times the average income of the average Chinese citizen. And that they destroyed their homes and confiscated their personal property when they cannot pay.
    • We knew that when a woman has an unauthorized pregnancy, she is typically brought to the family planning center and subjected to intense psychological pressure, often with the personal involvement of her boss and other people who hold power over her, until she agrees to the abortion. We knew that when the psychological pressure does not work, women are sometimes dragged physically to abortion mills and that physical force is often also employed against both men and women when they refuse to be sterilized.
    •  In January 7, 1985, in an incisive piece in The Washington Post by Michael Weisskopf—remember this is 1985—he writes: ''Chinese leaders consider their policy of one-couple-one-child a fight for national survival.'' But he says: ''A closer look reveals a different picture than the one that they give about voluntarism.'' He points out that China is curbing its population growth, but its success is rooted in widespread coercion, mass abortion, and intrusion by the State into the most intimate of human affairs. ''The size of the family is too important to be left to the personal decision of the couple,'' said the Minister of Family Planning who was in China at the time. And then he goes to talk about how coercive abortion—back in 1985—and I can recall Members, when I raised this issue, looking at me and saying, ''It can't be true.'' Well, it continues, regrettably, to this day.
    • But today, we learn, for the first time, through Mrs. Gao's testimony, details about the depravity of the PRC program, that not even the harshest critics of the program ever suspected.
    • We never knew, for example, that the Chinese population control program employs a network of paid informants. According to Mrs. Gao, her office routinely pays people to report on the unauthorized pregnancies of their neighbors, relatives, and friends. Children are treated as such contraband, such outcasts, that people are spied upon when someone has an unauthorized, so-called ''illegal'' baby, and then that baby is targeted for extermination.
    • It is also not widely known that sterilization is sometimes employed not only as a preventive measure, but also as a punishment. That is, a man or a woman may be sterilized even though he or she has not yet had the one child permitted by the Chinese Government policy as a means of punishing some infraction of the rules and of deterring others from similar infractions.
    • they conduct nighttime raids on the homes of couples suspected of having illegal babies.
    • family planning centers engage in Gestapo-like record keeping about the sexual history of every woman within their jurisdiction.
    • these so-called family planning centers actually contain cells, detention centers with prison bars, to hold those who have resisted abortion or sterilization.
    • We will also hear today from Mrs. Zhou Yon, a victim of the coercive population control program who escaped from China when she was 2 months pregnant. She escaped a forced abortion with literally minutes to spare, only to lose her baby and then spend 4 1/2 years in detention at the hands of incredulous U.S. Government officials. She was recently released from detention, but still faces forcible deportation to China.
    • And, Mr. Chairman, I think that if we could have a hearing every day, 300 days a year, it probably wouldn't be enough on this subject because there is no greater atrocity that occurs than the snuffing out of an innocent life.
    • Mr. HYDE. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it's all been said very well by yourself and Mr. Lantos and Mr. Salmon and I just associate myself with their sentiments. I would say that abortion, whether coerced or voluntary, is all the same to the unborn. It's a life member of the human family extinguished because it's inconvenient and that is dehumanizing. But it's doubly dehumanizing when the mother who wants to have her child is forced by the government to exterminate her child. That's a double insult to humanity and this practice should be exposed for what it is and rejected for what it is. So I thank you for holding these hearings.
    • The Chinese carry out the planned birth policy with the help of Chinese citizens who inform the planned birth office of their neighbor's violations of the policy. This is the informer's box where people in the town who wish to report violations can drop their accusations.

          On the first floor of the building is a detention facility which holds those who are in violation of the government's planned birth policy. Other family members can be arrested and detained here if the government cannot apprehend the woman in violation. They can hold these people without any formal arrest whatsoever until the woman surrenders herself to having an abortion or sterilization. Each cell holds 20 to 25 people.
    • This woman was engaged to her boyfriend, but was only 19 years old so this kind of arrangement was illegal. She became pregnant, but her pregnancy was not legal according to the government because she did not have a permit for marriage. The constitution says that a woman is of adult age at the age of 18, however they will not issue marriage permits in China until the woman has reached the age of 20. She was 9 months pregnant before she was apprehended and brought into the office for an abortion. She describes how, if she did not go into the office to get the abortion, her house and her mother-in-law's house would have been destroyed by a supervision team and she would have to pay a fine.

          When asked what was done, if the baby is still alive when aborted, Mrs. Gao answers that it is given an injection so that it will die. She goes on to say that even up to a few days before the due date, abortions are still performed. She tells of the horrors of how, at the peak of abortions in China, many times baby fetuses would be thrown into the trash can after abortions.

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          After her abortion, this woman had an IUD inserted. She later married, but is not sure if she will ever be able to have any children again.
    • This woman's story is quite similar. She was pregnant and engaged to her boyfriend. However, out of fear of the government's planned birth policy, as she did not have a permit for such a birth, she went to the hospital and aborted her baby on her own. Later, she tells of how she was accused of hiding the baby by informers and the government captured her for sterilization. Before her sterilization surgery, however, her cousin tried to go back to the hospital where she received the abortion to get proof from the doctor who performed the surgery that she did not in fact have a child. But when he returned to the planned birth office, it was too late. The girl had already been sterilized.

          After she was sterilized, her husband rejected her with the justification of what good is a chicken who cannot lay an egg? She was beaten and tortured by him and has tried repeatedly to commit suicide but, without government approval, her tubes cannot be reconnected and she can never have children again.
    • This is Jianjing's Central Women's Hospital. Every month, more than 100 abortions are performed here. Ironically, however, it was nominated by the World Health Organization as being a baby-friendly hospital.
    • My work at the planned birth office included establishing a computer data bank of all the women of childbearing age in the town, which includes over 10,000 women, including their dates of birth, marriage, situation, children, contraceptive ring insertion, pregnancies, abortions, and childbearing capabilities. I also issue birth-allowed certificates, which she was holding up right here, to women who meet the policy and regulations of the Central and Provincial Planned Birth Committees and are, therefore, allowed to give birth to children. Without a certificate, women are not allowed to give birth to children. Should a woman be found pregnant without a certificate, an abortion is performed immediately, regardless of how many months pregnant she is.
    • I have an example of this. This case about a Miss Chen Li-Ren who was a female resident of a village outside of Yonghe Town. In 1996, she became pregnant, in spite of the fact that she was not married and did not have a certificate. It's a violation of the planned birth policy to become pregnant without a birth-allowed certificate. To avoid heavy monetary penalties and abortion, she, in order to save the child's life, when she was 3 months pregnant, left the town.

          But when she was 9 months pregnant, somebody informed on her. The planned birth enforcement team of Yonghe Town began searching for her. They were unable to find her, so they tore down her husband's family's house and then threatened to also tear down the house of her parents. One day, when she was at her parents' house, the enforcement team officials forced their way into the house. They found her and took her immediately—stuffed her into a car and escorted her to the Jinjiang Municipality Planned Birth Induced Delivery Center where the abortion was performed.
    • According to the specific data on each woman, every woman of childbearing age is notified that she has to have a contraceptive device reliability and pregnancy examinations when necessary. Should she fail to present herself in a timely manner for these examinations, she will not only be forced to pay a fine, but our supervision team will apprehend her and force her to have such an examination.
    • These are two cases which I personally handled. This is a document where I authorized the sterilization of Mrs. Yao of Yonghe Township because she already had two girls. And this is another notice that I signed on November 28, 1996, authorizing the sterilization of Mrs. Shao. They already had one boy and one girl and, according to regulations, she must be sterilized.
    •  This is Mr. and Mrs. Tsai in the Younghe Township and Shanquian Village. They were married in 1987, but since they were infertile, in 1991 they adopted a girl and this was legal. But in 1997 they also adopted a boy which was not legal. So the Tsai's were fined 6,000 RMB and also the planned birth official of their village was also fined 1,000 RMB.
      • Can you believe it! The policy even applies to adoption. - post by savedsinner
    • They are then sent to villages or areas where problems are expected either for routine door-to-door checking or for swift checking of local violators.

          Supervision teams are makeshift and, to avoid leaks, cadres do not know which village they will be sent to until the last minute. Planned birth supervision teams usually exercise night raids, encircling suspected households with lightening speed. They also exercise night raids and they encircle the houses in order to keep people from escaping.
    • There are a few problems that are associated with these planned birth supervision teams. The first one is with regard to the tearing down of houses. No document explicitly allows dismantling of a violator's house, but to the best of my knowledge this practice not only exists in our province, but in rural areas in other provinces as well.
    •  I have two examples. The first one is in Yonghe Village in Bochu town. Mr. and Mrs. Lin were married in 1992, and then they had two girls which were out of the plan. In October 1995, their house was torn down and Mr. Lin was detained in a detention center and, in November 1995, he was sterilized.

          Another example is in Zhoukeng Town. Another Lin family. They were married in 1988. Their son was born in 1989. According to regulations she had an IUD inserted, but the IUD was not in the correct place and she subsequently became pregnant again. In order to avoid having an abortion, she hid out until her son was born. However, in October 1995, the work team sent a bulldozer to tear down their house, as well as their brother's house. And, in May 1996, Mrs. Lin was sterilized.
    • The majority of the detainees are, of course, either women who are pregnant without birth-allowed certificates or women who are to be sterilized or women who have been fined. As I explained previously, if we do not apprehend the women themselves, we detain their family members, such as a father, a mother, a sister, brothers, or their husband. And we detain them until the women themselves come forward to be sterilized or to have an abortion.
    • We both love children very much. Unfortunately, because of the pressures of the one-child policy in China, we could not have a second child.

          The only thing we could do was to adopt a boy late in 1993 from Northeast China in Harbin. We named him Zhang Wei Peng. This, however, was also in violation of the policy. We had no choice but to secretly keep him in someone else's house for fear of being informed against by others in our town. We instructed the child to never call me mother in the presence of outsiders. Whenever government agencies conducted door-to-door checks, our son had to hide elsewhere. Most of the time he had to stay in our friend's home.
    • My elder sister and my elder brother's wife, they also have two daughters each. But both of them were sterilized and, because of the sterilization procedure, their health was ruined, making it impossible for them to live and work normally.
    • Once I found a woman who was 9 months pregnant, but did not have a birth-allowed certificate. According to the policy, she was forced to undergo an induced abortion. In the operating room, I saw the child's lips were moving and how its arms and legs were also moving. The doctor injected poison into its skull and the child died and it was thrown into the trash can. Afterwards the husband was holding his wife and crying loudly and saying, what kind of man am I? What kind of husband am I? I can't even protect my wife and child. Do you have any sort of humanity?

          Whenever I saw these things, my heart would break and I felt like to help the tyrant do evils was not what I wanted. I could not bear seeing all these mothers grief-stricken by induced delivery and sterilization. I could not live with this on my conscience because I too am also a mother. These cruel actions are against what I believe in.
    • All of those 14 years I was a monster in the daytime, injuring others by the Chinese Communist authorities' barbaric planned birth policy. But in the evening I was like all other women and mothers, enjoying my life with my children. I couldn't go on living with such a dual life anymore.

          Here to all those injured women and to all those children who were killed, I want to repent and say sincerely that I'm very sorry, sincerely sorry. I want to be a real human being. It is also my sincere hope that what I describe here today can lead you to give your attention to this issue so that you can extend your arms to save China's women and children. Today I'm very happy to have this opportunity to be here and share my story with you. Thank you.
    • Ms. ZHOU. My name is Zhou Shiu Yon. I come from Fujian in China. I was born on August 5, 1973. My parents are Zhou Hai Guan and Chen Yi Jiao. On June 15, 1993, I caught a ship in Guangzhou and fled to the United States.

          May 1993, when I was 19, I was found to be pregnant. We were both so happy and went to the government office to get legal paperwork for our marriage. We were refused because I was under 20. Later the government found I was pregnant. Feeling sick, I go to the hospital. The doctor who examined me reported my apparent pregnancy to the government. As I had no legal paper for marriage and no government-approved birth-allow documents, my baby was illegal and I could not have a baby.
    • The government sent many soldiers to my home. I heard a group of men at the door. So I know it was the government soldier who had come to take me away for abortion. I hid in my room. Five men came to my door and broke it down. One of the men stayed outside as a guard. One is inside my room. They grabbed me and handcuffed me, then they took me to the hospital. They locked me up for hours in a small room in the hospital.

          They gave me a pill and they were to come back in about 30 minutes with a shot. They forced me to swallow the pill, but I escaped the shots. My boyfriend knew I was locked up. He gave 1,000 to a nurse for her to open the window. She opened the window and I jumped out. Then my boyfriend took me by a car straight to Guangzhou. We wanted the baby very much. We paid 5,000 to get on a ship. I hope that by leaving China I would be able to find a safe place to give birth to my baby.
    • You see, all the departments joined together against the humans who want to have a baby. So this entity, the Chinese Communist Party, has declared a war upon the very act of giving life. Because this is a one-vote veto policy, it means if you violate so-called planned birth policy, no driving license, no passport, no house, no job, no bank loaning, nothing. And those people is not really like your political application, like dissidents. It isn't like the people want to involve the religious behavior. It is very, very natural for a single woman. They just want a baby, but without the birth permit from the government, not allowed to have a baby.

          Do you find any place in the world where a person has to get a permit from a government to have a baby? Without a permit, they can force you to have an abortion, they can destroy your house, they can fine you, and they can detain your parents, your husband, waiting for you to come back for abortion and sterilization. And this policy applies to all the women and all the families in China.
    • After your first baby, the first month, you have to register your baby in the police station. If more than 1 month passes without a registration, sterilization is required. After you delivered the baby, in the next 2 months you have to insert the IUD. If the second month passes and no IUD has been inserted, sterilization is required.

          If you do have IUD in your womb, every quarter the government will inform you, notice you, and you have to go to the office of inspection. If you do not appear, you pay the fine, 50 yuans, every day. If over 1 month, the fine is 2,000 yuans. If 6 months passes, there has been no IUD inspection; then sterilization is required.

          If the first baby is male, in the fourth month, the subject must obtain a single-child certificate. If 4 months pass and no such certificate has been obtained, sterilization is required. If the first baby is a female, you have to right away insert IUD and, if you want to have a second baby, you have to wait for another 38 months.
    •  Let me show you one document. This is statistics from Yonghe Town, June 1997. Yonghe Town controls 22 villages. The total population is 65,163. That includes 12,974 women who married and possibly have a child. It means, like 13,000. And this information says 12,000 of them, means 93.7 percent of the women already have a kind of planned birth control measure. That means 2,300 of the women already insert IUD. Metal ring in their womb. And 9,694 of the 12,000 women subject to sterilization. That means 75 percent of the women in this town sterilized. How many of them voluntarily want to accept the sterilization? I don't know. But I think 95 percent of them are forced to sterilize. And this small town has, on the average, 10 to 15 forced abortions and half of them actually the pregnancy's over 4 months.

          This is killing policy. This is murder policy. Today in the United States, two teenagers are facing the death penalty as they were charged with the murder of their newborn baby. When the child was born, they crushed its skull and threw it into the trash. Every American felt repulsed by this story. But what about the Chinese Communist Government? It will happen today in China and everywhere in China. Millions of women, millions of babies, subject to this policy every day.

          Let me say in this way: If Chinese planned birth policy continues into the next two decades, along with the economic development, China will become a kind of prosperous country. I have two questions. First, what is the cost we pay for that kind of prosperity? How many babies murdered? How many women wounded? How many families destroyed?
    • Mr. REES. Mrs. Gao, just to follow up on something the chairman said, suppose that there was a woman who was pregnant and had an unauthorized—she did not have a birth-allowed certificate and you—a family planning official talked with her and said, you really ought to have an abortion. And she said, no, I will not have an abortion. I don't believe in it. I want the child. And the family planning official said, after a long conversation, OK, it's up to you. It's your choice. What would happen to that family planning official? Would anything happen?

          Ms. GAO. [via interpreter] They'll be fired.
  • tags: Adoption

  • tags: health, Pregnancy

  • tags: pro-life

    • A
      new review of studies examining various types of prenatal loss and
      the effects on subsequent parenting has concluded that abortion may
      be "particularly damaging to the parenting process."
    • Finding
      help and support after abortion is further hampered by the belief
      that, unlike other forms of pregnancy loss, abortion is optional and
      therefore women experience less distress afterwards. However, having
      an abortion is "sometimes quite inconsistent with the woman's
      true desires" (one survey found that 64
      percent of American women
      who had abortions reported feeling pressured
      to abort), and many women, especially those who feel conflicted or
      didn't want the abortion, do feel emotional distress afterwards.
    • And
      while abortion advocates frequently argue that abortion is better
      than carrying an unplanned pregnancy to term, the evidence suggests

      of women with
      unplanned pregnancies
      found that women who aborted had higher
      risks of depression, substance abuse and anxiety, and teens who aborted
      an unintended pregnancy were more likely to experience negative mental
      health outcomes than their peers who carried to term. Further, a recent
      Zealand study
      led by a pro-choice researcher found no evidence
      that abortion provided any mental health benefits to women even in
      cases of unplanned pregnancy.

    • The
      paper described a number of ways that a previous abortion can effect
      a woman's relationship with her living children:
    • Increased
      depression and anxiety.
    • Sleep
      disorders and disturbances.
    • Substance
    • Abortion
      has also been linked to higher
      rates of suicide
      and to a wide range of mental
      health disorders
      . Coleman was also the lead author of a study
      published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, which
      found that the children of women who had abortions have less supportive
      home environments and more behavioral problems than children of women
      without a history of abortion.2
  • tags: Preserving food

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Where I've been

The Isle of Skye.

Monday, 13 July 2009

My Web Wanderings (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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