Why are there so many forced abortions in China on women who fail to comply with the nation’s family planning policy that allows couples to have only one child?
Dr Jackie Sheehan, senior fellow at the China Policy Institute and associate professor at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham in England says “powerful financial and personal incentives” exist for local officials to ensure “forced abortions and sterilizations continue on mainland despite calls to reform family planning laws.” As Sheehan writes:
Coercion and violence are integral parts of the system. The people who track down pregnant women to carry out unwanted terminations do it not because they are evil or unfeeling. They do it because of powerful incentives to meet family-planning targets.
Disappointing their superiors by failing to meet targets has serious career consequences, whereas violating the rights of ordinary citizens, an occasional international scandal notwithstanding, results only in temporary suspension or demotion.
These social compensation fees have become a vital component of local officials’ income, covering overtime, bonuses, pensions and travel expenses. China Human Rights Defenders has highlighted the financial rewards and penalties on offer to family-planning officials on performance-related pay. Officials lose points for every out-of-quota birth in their area and earn cash bonuses for every abortion and sterilization they enforce.