The day before Thanksgiving, Chinese pro-life leader Sarah Huang, her husband, and their 5-year-old son landed in Texas, the answer to months of tearful prayer: Finally the baby in Huang’s womb was safe from the reaches of China’s family planning officials. Crying, she called China Life Alliance (CLA) founder Matthew Li (not his real name).
“We made it out,” she told him. “As soon as the wheels were up in Beijing, I knew my baby was safe.”
Over the years, Huang (not her real name) has helped more than 100 women dealing with over-quota pregnancies only to find herself pregnant with a second child this fall. Friends and family urged her to abort the baby as the family could not afford the $35,000 fine and her husband’s job was on the line. But Huang knew the baby had been given to her by God. Over the phone, she expressed to me her fear she would face the same fate as women she’s helped in the past—that she’d be ratted out, officials would drag her to a clinic, strap her to a metal table, and forcibly abort her baby. While forced abortions are officially illegal in China, they still occur in rural areas.
Even the recent change from a one-child policy to a two-child policy wouldn’t help Huang’s situation. She got pregnant before the announced change and the implementation of the new law will take place gradually throughout the country. Her options dwindled to getting a divorce, raising a child without hukou—China’s household registration—or traveling to the United States to give birth. While weighing their options, the Huangs applied for travel visas and hid in a safe house, where Huang continued trying to help other women even as she faced danger herself. One night she called Li saying police officers with dogs were at her door, and she refused to let them in. At that point, Li knew they had to get her out of the country.
Once the Huangs received their visas, CLA and China Aid helped arrange plane tickets and places for the family to stay in the United States. After arriving in Dallas, Li said border patrol officers viewed them suspiciously, questioning why they needed to spend six months in the country just to visit friends. They eventually allowed the family to stay only one month. But somehow the Huangs got six-month stamps on their passports, allowing them to stay long enough for the baby’s birth.
Huang has been invited to testify before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China tomorrow to tell her story and explain how China’s change to a two-child policy will continue to perpetuate human rights abuses. Although she will speak from behind a screen to protect her identity, she worries about the backlash back home and whether her husband will lose his job once they return to China, Li said. The family is also concerned about how to pay for their six-month stay and the birth expenses.
The day after arriving in America, the Huangs celebrated their first Thanksgiving. Li received a text from Huang: “We just learned about the history of American Thanksgiving. … How fitting that this is our first day in America. We are thankful for all you have done for us.”
— by June Cheng
On December 3, 2015, Sarah Huang testified before the Congressional Executive Commission on China stating that the official government policy change from one-child to two will not stop forced abortions that number at least 13 million a year and amount to the “torture” of Chinese women. Read the complete testimony here.