Even with so much instability in Hong Kong, China, and elsewhere in the world, it’s more important than ever to remember our basic values.
Most of the people you know would probably agree that gendercide is wrong, so you might never encounter it yourself. But the root problem is still very widespread, and it’s very uncomfortable–and it’s easier to just ignore.
(Image via BBC, from Dr. Ravi Khanna, who treated baby Sita.)
Hong Kong is in a crisis. Where should our attention be?
The man who found her, Hitesh Kumar Sirohi, said he was digging a grave for his own stillborn daughter when he dug up the clay pot with the baby girl inside. She was about 3 feet underground, according to the reports.
Hitesh Kumar Sirohi contacted local authorities and fed the baby milk while he waited for them to arrive, the reports state.
The baby girl now is in stable condition at a local hospital. Doctors said she weighed 2.4 pounds (1.1 kilograms) when she arrived.
“The hospital staff have named the baby Sita. She is undergoing treatment here, she has not yet recovered fully,” said Vimal Kumar, director of the hospital neonatal intensive care unit. “As of now, her life has been saved. We are trying to trace the girl’s mother.”
Photo from Dr Ravi Khanna, who treated baby Sita
This is a great story of a life saved from a horrible crime. It’s so great to hear when something goes right, despite everything.
In 2018, the Government of India estimated that 63 million women are missing from its population due to sex-selection abortions, infanticide and other discriminatory violence.In July, statistics from one Indian district revealed that no baby girls were born in a three-month period. All of the 216 babies who were born in the Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand state in northern India, were boys.
The Alliance Defending Freedom estimates about 50,000 unborn baby girls are killed every month in India simply because they are girls.
Meanwhile, most American states do not prohibit sex-selection abortions. Though studies indicate unborn baby girls frequently are targeted for abortions, the American abortion industry fights vehemently against sex-selection abortion bans.
We’ll probably never get the support of Bill Gates or the mainstream media, but this is one of the most important issues in the world, and we have to find better ways to fight it.
*Correction: You might have seen the news coverage about the 216 Indian villages where no baby girls were born during a 3-month period, April through June 2019. This story was sensationalized, and did not mention the villages where no baby boys were born. So, that data cannot be used as clear proof of India’s crisis of sex-selective abortions.
In this #asiaforlife podcast, Joe shares about visiting the United Nations Headquarters. (Actually, it was a coffee shop nearby—but it was still cool! The discussion includes:
—Donald Trump helps religious freedom (even if he might not be a religious believer himself)
—There are people praying at the United Nations
—America is speaking up for countries that want to keep their anti-abortion laws
I was in New York during the United Nations General Assembly recently. I hadn’t planned to be there at that time, so it was a surprise. And it also meant that the normally bad traffic was awful, especially if you were anywhere near the United Nations offices.
I didn’t go to the United Nations–there was no way I could have gotten a pass. But I did meet up with some people at a coffee shop, very close to the action at the United Nations. (It was an interesting place to be, because a lot of the people at the coffee shop were getting ready for meetings at the General Assembly.)
The people I went there to meet are intercessors, and they shared testimonies from the day before. One of them does lobbying there, and another does office work there. (And this is not really relevant to the podcast, but somebody I met at the coffee shop later does pro-life ministry in New York. And she said her husband used to take trips to Hong Kong, to smuggle Bibles into China, back in the 1990s when a lot of missionaries were doing that. It was very cool to hear about that!)
A “trigger warning”
Before I go on, I want to “warn” you: this episode contains information about Donald Trump. I’m going to discuss what he said at the United Nations, in relation to the pro-life movement.
Like a lot of people, I have very mixed feelings about Trump. It’s easier not to talk about him at all. But his statement at the General Assembly will affect the future of the pro-life movement, so it’s worth paying attention to.
I also want to point out that Donald Trump has never said he is a Christian, and he’s never said that he is personally pro-life. But I think he sincerely cares about religious liberty. And I think that he is personally opposed to late-term abortion.
Trump’s speech at the UN was unusually dull and powerful
With those provisos out of the way–I think his speech at the United Nations was important for religious freedom, human rights, and for the global pro-life movement. After he talked about religious liberty, this is what he said about the pro-life issue:
Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life. We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to assert a global right to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, right up until the moment of delivery. Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life. Like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child—born and unborn—is a sacred gift from God.
Trump read his entire speech—over 36 minutes long—in a slow monotone. It was uncharacteristically dull. But it was good. Even though I don’t agree with everything he said in the speech, I personally think it’s his best speech yet.
Praying for the United Nations
And here’s why my friends thought it was an answer to prayer, when Trump made his very public declarations about religious liberty, and about support for countries with pro-life laws.
Before Trump’s speech, a group of intercessors was at the United Nations, praying for the General Assembly meetings, and praying for global leaders to focus on what really mattered. They said everybody was really surprised that Trump made his very interruptive statements about religious freedom. And it did turn people’s attention to an issue that really matters for many millions of people who are suffering persecution. With China
leading on the Human Rights Council at the United Nations this year, any substantive discussion of human rights and religious freedom at the United Nations didn’t stand a chance.
A pro-human extinction activist holds a sign at a “Climate Strike” protest in Beverly Hills, California, September 26, 2019. While complaints about environmental problems were encouraged at the United Nations, human rights issues were largely ignored.
I sat in the coffee shop with these intercessors, and we prayed earnestly for the week of meetings and deliberations at the UN, and for God’s heart of justice to turn the hearts of leaders towards the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted–and also towards the preborn child. (One of them told me that she arranges small prayer meetings inside the United Nations. This is very encouraging!)
I’ll close by saying again–I want to be honest about Trump. I don’t think he’s personally pro-life, and I don’t think he wants to restrict abortion, except perhaps late-term abortion. Even though he shows support for the pro-life movement, he has not actually said that he believes that America should have pro-life laws.
But, during his speech at the United Nations, he was willing to stand up for countries that do want pro-life laws. And he said this because there are a lot of people at the United Nations who want unrestricted abortion access to be a global “human right”. And they want it to be protected by international treaties.
This is why I’m paying attention to this. If the world continues to move in that direction, it’s not impossible that pro-life organisations could be criminally outlawed in many countries, because of the idea that they oppose a “fundamental human right”. Regardless of what Trump personally believes about abortion, he does support national sovereignty, and the right of nations to make their own laws. Regardless of what motivated him to say that, his statement was actually very important for protecting the international pro-life movement.
Radical pro-choice lobbyists are trying to make unrestricted abortion a globally enforced “human right”, and America is helping other nations to push back
Also during the General Assembly, pro-life lobbyists at the United Nations were able to form a coalition of 20 nations to make a public statement, simply saying that there is no “international right to abortion”. Even though America has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world, their support of this coalition is extremely important.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Let me know if you have an idea for a podcast episode, or someone I should interview.
In this #asiaforlife podcast, Joe shares more about personal experiences in the Bronx. The discussion includes:
—Pro-life ministry in the Bronx
—40 Days for Life and how it’s strengthened the global pro-life movement, as well as our public image
—The need for churches to respond to the culture of death in their communities
Today I’m going to talk about the Bronx, which has a reputation for being the poorest and most dangerous place in New York City. The Bronx has 1.5 million people, and according to researchers, Bronx county has the worst quality of life anywhere in the entire state of New York.
Obviously, it’s a very difficult place to live. And that means it’s a crucial area for churches to operate, as well as pro-life ministries.
Pro-life ministry in the Bronx
And the pro-life movement does have a presence there. There are pro-life prayer initiatives, there are sidewalk counseling ministries outside abortion clinics, and there are pregnancy resource centers. There’s even a Sisters of Life convent in the Bronx, where young Catholic nuns commit their lives to ending abortion.
There are good people in the Bronx. But, in all of New York, it’s still the roughest place to live and raise a family. So when a woman gets pregnant—when a couple is unexpectedly expecting—they’re probably going to turn to abortion, unless they’ve received love and affirmation and a pro-life message, either from their family or their church.
One reason that the abortion rate is so extremely high in the Bronx is Planned Parenthood. They do a lot of advertising, and as far as I know, Planned Parenthood has a good reputation there. They actually started in New York City, and that’s where their national and international headquarters are located.
Women’s March NYC, 2018
When I arrived to New York, I visited a pregnancy resource center right across from the Planned Parenthood in the Bronx. A guy from Spain met me. He’s one of many interns learning to do pro-life ministry in one of the roughest places in America.
That center in the Bronx is just one of the 3,000 pro-life pregnancy resource centers in America. But it’s definitely unique.
The director wanted office space as close as possible to the Bronx Planned Parenthood, and so they found a location just across the street. But their pro-life office is connected to a giant tattoo shop. When you’re standing outside the building, or walking upstairs to the office, it’s a very stark contrast, between the dark tattoo art, and the much gentler pro-life advertising.
It’s not easy for them, and there is no convenient or comfortable way to do pro-life ministry in the Bronx. But they’re doing it anyway, and they’ve helped tens of thousands of women to choose life in New York City.
There’s a lot more I could say about that, but I’ll just encourage you to look up your local pro-life pregnancy resource center. And support them! They’re literally standing in the gap between life and death in your city.
40 Days for Life and abortion in the Bronx
I also want to talk about my last day in New York City. I just happened to be there during the first morning of the international 40 Days for Life campaign. I’m a big fan of 40 Days for Life, because they have helped to revitalize the reputation of the pro-life movement. They are absolutely dedicated to using only peaceful and legal methods. During their campaigns, they have drawn over 1,000,000 people from 19,000 churches around the world to pray on the sidewalks outside abortion centers. This has made the entire movement stronger and more self-confident, just knowing that we are in fact a peaceful and love-filled movement–regardless of how the media generally characterises pro-life people.
I actually led the 40 Days for Life campaign in Hong Kong for 2 years, and even though I can’t lead it anymore–mainly for health reasons–I am hoping it will continue in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia.
Anyway, I signed up on the 40 Days for Life website to pray at the Bronx at 10am. I was the only one praying there during that hour, but I’m really glad I went. Standing in that place reminded me how much hopelessness there is for so many women, if their most attractive choice is abortion.
That clinic is not run by Planned Parenthood, and there’s not much information online. There’s no sign in front, except for the street number. There’s a lot of rust outside the entrance. And outside the side exit door, the sign is completely weather-worn. It’s in awful condition.
If the building in this photo were not an abortion business, it would certainly get fined, and probably get shut down by the health department. (Ironically, right before I went to pray here, I saw a ticket on the front door of the house where I was staying. My host got a $100 fine, because some passersby had dropped trash on the sidewalk in front of his house.)
It looked like a dirty clinic in a third-world country–except that there are other medical clinics on the same block, and they all look clean and professional. So, this is just another example of a dirty American abortion clinic, which the local health department will quietly ignore, because the government of New York claims to “support women’s health”.
I took this photo while praying in front of an abortion clinic in the Bronx, during my last morning in New York City. And yes, that bus ad says “EVIL”.
I was praying there for an hour, and nothing really happened. I’m not even sure if anyone went inside for an abortion. At one point, a nurse stepped outside and video recorded me on her phone for a minute. (This was only a scare tactic. I’m certain I wasn’t breaking any law.)
I prayed for the churches in the Bronx, that they would make a stand for life, and help end their community’s epidemic of abortion.
And later, I emailed the director of the 40 Days for Life campaign in the Bronx, and she told me that she actually used to live in Hong Kong! She had worked for many years with disabled orphans in China. Now she’s in the Bronx, and she’s continuing to save lives there! That reminds me, I really want to invite her to talk on the podcast.
That’s all for this episode. Thanks for listening. And just in closing, I’ll let you know that the Bronx Planned Parenthood is planning to expand. So pray for the Bronx, and maybe even consider going to the Bronx, to volunteer with one of the pro-life ministries there.
In this #asiaforlife podcast, Joe shares about some experiences and insights from his trip to New York City last week. The discussion includes:
—A man who jumped in front of a train while holding his daughter
—A governor who loudly celebrated the world’s most radical abortion law
—The incredibly urgent need for fathers in places like New York City
This episode isn’t about Asia, but it is about the international pro-life movement. While any big metropolis has to deal with the abortion problem, New York is leading the way with their Reproductive Health Act. And the church has a responsibility to respond to this crisis by “turning the hearts of fathers to their children”.
I was in New York City last week. I’d passed through New York City before on layovers, but this was really my first proper trip to New York City. I was in Chinatown, the Bronx, and some nice, less touristy parts.
This trip was basically an Asia for Life “business trip”, to get to know some organizations based there. But today I want to talk on a more personal level about some of my own experiences, and the “culture of death” in New York City.
I’ll start by saying that New York City is so much different from everywhere else I’ve ever been. I grew up in America, and I’ve seen a lot of America. But in New York City, I felt like I was visiting a foreign country. And that’s not just because everybody speaks different languages. (I hardly needed to use English, because I talked to so many people who spoke Cantonese, Mandarin, or Spanish.)
But there’s something else. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about the city that makes it feel very different from the rest of the country.
A life miraculously spared, and some Good Samaritans
Anyway, on the bus ride to New York, I had a very strange, dark feeling about where I was going. I prayed for New York City, and especially for the Bronx, where I was staying. I later read about this incident, which had happened at the same time I was praying, shortly before 8:00am on Monday morning.
This summary of the story is from the Washington Post:
The man, a 45-year-old Bronx resident named Fernando Balbuena-Flores, died on the scene Monday morning, according to New York police. But the girl, who has not been named, went to a Bronx medical center with only minor injuries and was released to her mother in stable condition.
[A bystander named Ivy had] seen the wheels of the southbound No. 4 train — already slowing to a stop, she said — roll over Balbuena-Flores’s head. People beside Ivy wailed and covered their faces.
But the girl apparently fit beneath the wheels, she said.
So then, there were two men—Antonio Love, and another unnamed man—who helped to get the 5-year old girl out from under the train. They got the girl out safely, but also got injured in the process.
Speaking later at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx — where the two good Samaritans went with minor injuries, according to the New York Fire Department — Love questioned many onlookers’ decisions that morning to whip out cellphones rather than pitch in.
“It was just panicking,” he said. “Like, regular New Yorkers, pulling out their phones. Really?”
Someone stole his bag as he helped the girl to safety, he said.
Antonio Love was quoted by the New York Times:
“The only thing she was saying was ‘Papa, my papa.’”
There are so many things about this story that are tragic. But the most obvious one is that a man chose to end his own life, and the life of his daughter. I’m going to assume this father had mental health issues. So, I’m not condemning him. But what he did was horrible.
The Bronx needs more dads and less abortion
The Bronx has a bad reputation. They have more than their fair share of violence and murder and suicide. And I think it goes without saying that the Bronx needs fathers who are engaged in helping their communities. If dads in the Bronx were responsible husbands and fathers, that would probably solve most of the crime there. Because good fathers don’t tolerate anybody harming or endangering their kids.
Having decent families in your neighborhood means you don’t have to be scared to walk outside at night. But that’s not how it is in the Bronx, or in most of New York City.
There are so many ways that simply having decent dads around can prevent crime and poverty. You’d think this would be a national priority in a place like New York City. But what’s the priority of the government of New York? More access to abortion.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Passionately Supports Unrestricted Abortion
You’ve probably heard the story already. A few months ago, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, made big news headlines when he ordered that the One World Trade Center be lit pink, to celebrate New York’s new abortion law. New York already had a very liberal abortion law, but they wanted to make it even broader, and stronger, so that abortion would always remain legal, for any reason, during the entire pregnancy. The most disturbing part of the law was that it protects doctors who finish an abortion after birth, if the baby is born alive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement:
“I am directing that New York’s landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Governor Cuomo is the sort of person who supports abortion until birth, and celebrates it as publicly as possible. He could have been a role model to the many people who suffer from violence and fear in New York. So many people in New York City don’t even know who their fathers are! That causes a lot of problems, not only for families and communities, but for the government as well. But Governor Cuomo is promoting policies that undermine the important role of parents.
As an aside…by pushing abortion, he’s actually helping abusers, in a city that already has a huge problem with human trafficking and sexual abuse. Places like Planned Parenthood abortion clinics don’t like to report on rapists or human traffickers. They would prefer to help them, and keep things quiet, and let them continue to abuse women and children.
In general, abortion is an easy way out for a lot of men, and the more accessible it is, the easier it is to protect their own worst instincts, at the expense of women and children.
I’m not saying that Governor Cuomo wants more human trafficking, or even that he’s insincere in his reasons for pushing the most radical abortion legislation in the nation. I’m not saying that he’s a bad husband or father. I honestly don’t know much about his family life.
But he is fanatical about the right to abortion. The law he signed this year protects any abortion, for any reason, using any method, at any time, up to and including birth. It’s monstrous. If he really cared about the welfare of families in New York, he could use his position to encourage men to be good fathers, and try to lead by example. But his highest priority is to tell families that they have an absolutely fundamental “human right” to abortion.
And I will actually add one more thing about Cuomo’s family life, that I just read about. During my last day in New York, on September 25, Governor Cuomo announced his separation from his domestic partner, Sandra Lee. They’d been together for 14 years, and even though they weren’t married, she was considered the de facto “First Lady of New York”.
His situation, his personal example, and his obsession with abortion are just very sad for the people of New York. I’m not telling anyone they can’t vote for him. But on a human level, there’s no way to defend his attitude or his stance on abortion.
Dads, Churches, and Missionaries in New York City
In case you can’t tell by now, I don’t have a good impression of New York, especially New York City. I’ve never been anywhere in America or the world where I felt so nervous to walk downtown. Even in the main tourist area on 5th Avenue, I felt like I might get mugged at any moment.
In a place with as many problems as New York City, there have to be people who are willing to do good, to change things—even if it’s not popular, and even if they suffer for it. It’s like that guy who got the little girl off the train tracks—while he was trying to save her life, someone stole his bag. And people all around him were taking videos on their cell phones.
No matter what you do, if you try to do good in a place like New York City, you’ll probably have a tough time.
But there are people who are willing to make sacrifices. And I met some of them while I was there. Just one example is a pro-life pregnancy resource center I visited. They provide counseling, resources, free medical care, and financial support for women who need help, during and after pregnancy. And there are interns there from other countries. They see the crisis of abortion in New York City, and they are coming from Europe and elsewhere. It’s really beautiful.
In New York City, there’s a lot of kids asking “Where’s my papa?” This story of the father trying to kill his 5-year old daughter is not common in New York City. There’s not a lot of men who are so mentally ill that they think the best thing they can do for their daughter in kindergarten is to kill her.
But a lot of fathers try to get rid of their children before they’re born, and New York City has the highest abortion rate in America. I think the crisis of abortion is a crisis of fatherhood. And it’s up to local communities—especially churches and Christian families—to respond to that urgent need, and to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children.
This #asiaforlifepodcast is a conversation with the Hong Kong couple Priscilla and Aquila. They met while working together to spread the Gospel to Chinese tourists. After getting married, they have also helped to build the Father School in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
For over 10 years, Priscilla and Aquila’s ministry has reached out to tourists from China and around the world, who visit Hong Kong and Macau for vacation. By offering “blessing bags” and initiating conversations, they have reached out to literally millions of people with the Gospel message.
But in this episode, we focus more on their personal story. It was a joy to talk with them about the story behind their marriage, and how God has worked through their marriage to bless their families, and also to bless the nations. Priscilla and Aquila are preparing to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.
They also share their work with the Father School, to help men become better fathers.
Organizations mentioned in this podcast episode:
This #asiaforlifepodcast is a conversation with Kevin Lai, from the pro-life NGO 喜樂生命 (Joy of Life), about pro-life ministry in Hong Kong. Listen to the podcast here:
This episode is a casual conversation about pro-life ministry in Hong Kong. We also talk about recent events in Hong Kong—especially the massively popular protests against the extradition legislation.
People take different sides on issues like this, and even little differences of opinion can cause a lot of tension in families. But Kevin is a good listener and a conscientious father, and he shares about how his son decided to join the protests in a very creative and positive way—and ended up with donations from strangers—including sports drinks and even homemade Chinese herbal tea.
Stock photo of the Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Bill Protests. (June 12, 2019, by paulwongkwan.)
After zooming in on the recent protests, we talk about Kevin and his work in marriage ministry. He also shares about the surprising growth of pro-life ministry the past few years, and the production of a new pro-life movie project that will be released at the end of this year.
This photo is from Joy of Life’s 2017 “First Photo Last Photo” exhibition on sex-selective abortion. You can see the video here:
First Photo Last Photo [VIDEO]
Kevin has worked for the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong for 28 years, in the Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family. That means his full time job is to coordinate ministries that help couples and strengthen families. Besides that, he helps run a small pro-life NGO, 喜樂生命 (Joy of Life). And last week, he actually took annual leave to volunteer for the 6-day Cana Marriage retreat in Hong Kong. So, he’s super busy.
He’s doing amazing work in Hong Kong, and I’m so grateful to have him on the podcast.
Organizations mentioned in this podcast episode:
「小小天使」生命支援熱線 (Pro-Life Hotline, service in Cantonese and Mandarin)
You can listen, subscribe, and leave a comment or review on any major podcast platform.
In this Asia for Life Podcast episode, I don’t actually talk with Dr. Leana Wen. But I do examine her ideas, because they’re worth taking seriously.
This is a review of the New York Times editorial that Dr. Wen wrote about her firing from Planned Parenthood, and also of some info from Planned Parenthood’s email list.
Dr. Wen tried to strengthen the reputation of the Planned Parenthood, by offering more comprehensive healthcare services. But PPFA is America’s largest abortion company, and they ultimately refused to let her change their business model.
In 2016, PPFA doubled its political giving to $30 million, to try to get Hillary Clinton into the White House. It’s possible they’ll double their political giving again in 2020. (So they’re probably very disappointed that they’ve just lost $60 million of U.S. government funding!)
But even though PPFA’s reputation is getting worse, they will continue to focus more on abortion, and less on comprehensive health care. And so they will continue to become a redundant (and hopefully obsolete) organization.
Moving forward, pro-life people should keep an eye on Dr. Leana Wen. She’s not radical in the way Planned Parenthood told her to be, but she is still radically pro-choice. And she still has a powerful voice in the medical field, and may try to steer public discourse about abortion and other life-and-death issues in the future.
People in a position like Dr. Wen are especially influential, because American laws, medical standards, rhetoric, and attitudes all have an outsized impact on global trends. For better or worse, America’s treatment of abortion will influence the rest of the world.
So, as always, the pro-life movement should be ready to engage with people like Dr. Wen, in a spirit of clarity and honesty. And we should be willing to pray, too—in a spirit of faith, hope, and love.
I forgot to mention…
There are several misleading statements in Dr. Wen’s article, but one of the obvious ones is the common belief that there were many women dying every year before abortion was legal.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson was America’s most prominent abortion doctor in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and he explained how this belief became popular.
“How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL (National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws) we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always 5,000 to 10,000 a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, But in the “morality” of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?” (Bernard Nathanson, Richard Ostling. Aborting America. Pinnacle Books. New York 1979.)
This is an introduction to discussing Dr. Leana Wen, who’s been in the news this past year after being hired as the young new director of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. She was fired before she’d been in the role for 9 months.
I’m Joe Woodard and this is the Asia for Life podcast. Today I’m going to talk about Dr. Leana Wen and her firing from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was the director for about eight or nine months and was, without warning, fired from her position.
Apparently they wanted someone who was a really awesome fundraiser and also a really progressive ideological warrior for every leftist social justice issue.
And apparently she was afraid that taking too too loud a position on things like the transgender debate would alienate a lot of their base. She was probably right.
But other people in Planned Parenthood didn’t think that was acceptable, and so they made sure she got fired. The acting director now is someone whose life work is basically to push transgender issues.
If you haven’t signed up for Planned Parenthood’s mailing list, it’s a great way to understand how they think and talk (at least in relation to their donors).
By the way, they’re really good at fundraising, although I don’t think I could mimic what they do. On a scale of 1 to 10, their volume is always at 11 or above. It’s just so intense, so loud, and so shrill, in every email. But they are really good at raising money.
If you want to find out more about Leana Wen, it’s actually hard to find, because a lot of her information has been scrubbed from Google. Several months ago, I was thinking of writing a longer piece about her, but her personal website had been taken down, and a lot of the top Google search results led to pages that had been deleted.
But what was available, at least at that time, were some really nice things about her history. For example, there was a winning essay that got her a special scholarship for taking a tour in Africa.
So there are snippets you can find online about her life story, and she has shared a few things in her email updates. The most memorable thing for me was her first email as the director of Planned Parenthood ,where she talked a little about her family story, and about how Planned Parenthood helped her mother after they migrated from China. She had said elsewhere that her her family were basically political immigrants.
That’s what she said, or suggested–after the Tiananmen Square Incident happened in 1989, her family decided to leave China. And she said that Planned Parenthood was there for her–for her mother specifically.
“Planned Parenthood was there for my family.”
It’s really sad to think about what could have been different for them if they had a different kind of support when they arrived in America. I don’t know.
Anyway, our job as Christians of course is to pray for Leana Wen, for God to work in her heart, and to lead her to Himself, and to His truth–and ultimately for her conversion.
But in the meantime, I hope and pray for the best for her, for her family, and for her son Eli. I don’t know what all has happened with her family since her firing from Planned Parenthood. But, she shared publicly that she had a miscarriage a few months ago, which of course is heartbreaking.
Obviously, that’s no laughing matter. Even if we’re ideological enemies–even if we disagree about everything else–miscarriage is not something you would wish on anybody. So, we should pray for Leana Wen and her husband, Sebastian Walker, and even that God will work through them–whatever they do, that God will turn their hearts like water in his hands (Proverbs 21:1). Because they are social leaders–her husband in media, and she in the medical world.
From Dr. Leana Wen’s Twitter account:
Today, I’m here with my son, Eli, who is 7 months old @ScienceMarchDC #MarchForScience
We’ll leave it there for now. In an upcoming episode (I hope), I’ll be discussing this at length with someone who knows a lot more about Planned Parenthood, and it should be a fun discussion.
So stay tuned for that. Talk to you next time.
This is the last of three episodes in the #asiaforlifepodcast on the situation of Uyghurs, including how they are treated under China’s Family Planning Policy.
And please read/listen to the previous two episodes here:
Each week, I’ll be sharing at least one or two podcast episodes. And I’ll focus mainly on one topic per week. Next week, it will be on Planned Parenthood, and especially on Leana Wen, the former director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. If you’ve kept up with pro-life news at all in the past year, you’ve definitely heard her name. And there’s been a lot of news about her since she was fired several weeks ago, very unexpectedly.
But I want to talk about Dr. Wen’s relationship with Planned Parenthood from a slightly different angle, with more focus on her heritage as a Chinese immigrant, and how I think she was too decent and reasonable—and possibly overqualified—for the role she was in, despite her best efforts to be the model pro-abortion advocate.
And since she’s originally from Shanghai, I’ll also talk about my own time in Shanghai, because my encounter with Planned Parenthood in Shanghai majorly impacted me, and motivated me to want to do pro-life work in East Asia.
But that will be next week. This week I’m focusing on Xinjiang, China’s northwesternmost province. If you don’t know much about Xinjiang, I made this little list of fun facts for you.
Fun Facts About Xinjiang
In my opinion, Xinjiang food is the best food in China. I know this is totally a matter of personal taste, but Xinjiang cuisine is really amazing. I so wish I could eat Uyghur food in Hong Kong, but I don’t know of any Uyghurs who live here.
- Xinjiang is the world’s largest exporter of tomatoes. If you’ve had ketchup recently, then at least some of it was probably from tomatoes from Xinjiang.
- A bunch of Chinese movies have done filming there, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Kite Runner was mainly filmed in the area around Kashgar, near the border with Afghanistan.
- Parts of Xinjiang are further from an ocean than anywhere else on Earth.
- Like everywhere else in China, Xinjiang officially runs on Beijing Standard Time. This would be the same as if California were using the same time as Washington, D.C. So, whenever they discuss time, or use times in an advertisement, or whatever, they have to mention both the official time, and the unofficial local time.
- Xinjiang is the size of Alaska.
- Like Alaska, Xinjiang has a lot of oil, and is useful as a security buffer with Russia.
- Just as America would never give up Alaska, China will definitely never give up Xinjiang, no matter what they have to do to keep it.
Something I found out this week that’s very strange—I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s very strange—is that Xinjiang hosts some of the competitions each year for the International Army Games. (Wikipedia article in Russian only.)
So in case you’ve never heard of this, which I hadn’t until yesterday, the International Army Games were launched by the Russian government several years ago, to be the “Olympics” of army games. They have different competitions—at the same time—in a bunch of different countries. There are over 40 countries participating this year, with games in 10 different countries, all taking place this month, right now.
And Xinjiang hosts some of the games each year. And this is strange, I think, because it also feels like there is actual war going on in Xinjiang right now, against millions of its own citizens–especially the Uyghurs.
China’s persecution of Uyghurs happens outside the concentration camps too
More important than anything in the list above, Xinjiang is also home to the world’s largest network of concentration camps. That’s part of what we’ll be talking about today, as well as some of the many societal injustices people face there, whether or not they are in detention.
The main thing you’ll hear about in the media now is about the hundreds of thousands of men who are in detention. They cannot take care of their families while they’re in detention, and that causes all sorts of other problems, which leads to even more oppression.
But we should talk both about the detentions, and about the other kinds of oppression. They’re both important to understand.
- We’ll start with food and clothing. Persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang includes things like being coerced to eat pork and drink alcohol. They’re also coerced (or forced) to wear common clothes. Men shouldn’t wear traditional clothes, and women can’t cover too much of their skin. Some women claim to have been approached by plain clothes police with scissors, and their dresses were cut on the street.
- There’s the everyday experience of having to stop at police checkpoints to show ID. This happens whenever people walk outside to buy groceries or anything else. This is normal, everyday life. One trip to the grocery store can literally require several different ID checks.
- If you’re an Uyghur man and you want to walk to Burger King or KFC for lunch, it means you will be stopped and ID’ed, and possibly frisked and interrogated. And there’s a chance you’ll get detained, without explanation. You don’t see a lot of young men on the streets, because they’re either already detained, or they’re too scared to go outside.
While most people in the “vocational education and training centers” are Uyghur men, many women and children are also detained.
Women are also in danger of being abused by government workers outside of prison, especially the many whose husbands are in detention.
A state press report about these visits also confirms that in some cases, cadres are sent to the homes of members of the opposite sex.The danger of abuse is particularly high during these compulsory “Becoming Family” homestay programs, which often involves Han Chinese government officials in a dominating power relationship with Turkic Muslim families who are required to host them overnight. This makes women and girls particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. [Human Rights Watch]
When the parents are in detention, or if the government believes the parents are a dangerous influence, then children are taken away from their homes and their schools, and they are sent to “child welfare guidance centers”.
The government has effectively created orphans, and so they had to create new orphanages, which have been built all over the province. Hopefully most of these children will be re-united with their parents, but a lot fo them won’t be. China is currently separating at least tens of thousands of families of Chinese citizens, because they are Uyghur Muslims. But nobody’s allowed to talk about it. Why?
For a lot of people in the West, they’re used to hearing horror stories about China from previous decades, with the idea that all the really awful stuff happened in the past, and things are better now. And I would say that’s generally true. Things are not as incredibly awful as they used to be. The international community has been helping China for decades, because of the suffering of China’s giant population.
And overall, things are better now. People are freer, nobody’s starving to death anymore, and they don’t rely on food aid to deal with crises caused by the government’s central planning policies. People aren’t punished for having extra money when they work hard and become moderately successful, at least not as much. People are free, more than at any time in the past several decades.
As far as the conditions of China’s “vocational education and training centers”, Uyghurs in detention are not given much food, and they’re punished when they don’t follow Han cultural norms. For example, they are punished with no food if they don’t say “Thank you” in Mandarin, or if they speak the Uyghur language.
But these are not the same as the old Russian gulags. They’re not the sort of concentration camps where the majority of people are gassed or intentionally starved to death. It’s appropriate to call them “detention centers”, because so many are put their against their will. And because of the political persecution that goes on their, and because of the scale, it’s appropriate to call them “concentration camps”. But if you feel that’s too dramatic, you can just call them “vocational education and training centers”.
China’s Forced Abortion Policy, Past and Present
I want to put this in context, both to understand how bad things really were in the past, and to understand how they’re bad now.
We’ll take this story from 1990 as an example. In the town of Baren, near Kashgar in Xinjiang, parents were trying to resist the forced abortion policy. After 250 women had their pregnancies forcibly aborted, hundreds of people went to the local Communist Party office to complain. The response was a military massacre. The military came in and shot hundreds of people. They even brought in helicopter gunfire. It was a terrorist attack by the Chinese government against its own people.
Another tragic part of this story is that the world knew that stuff like this happened. But everybody stayed quiet. And my guess is that it was because China had cheap labor, and the West didn’t want to risk losing access to China’s work force by complaining about government oppression.
Today, there are still a lot of injustices, including some forced abortions. Forced abortion is no longer common in China, as it was for decades. But there are certainly still coerced abortions, and certainly among Uyghur women.
One woman, Gulzia Mogdun, was told that her brother, an imam, would not be put in prison if she got an abortion. She got the abortion, and her brother still went to prison. She was kept under house arrest for months afterwards. And actually, I can’t even say “house arrest”. I guess China thinks it’s too much trouble to deal with accusations of “house arrest”, so instead they keep people under constant surveillance. You can call it “surveilled house arrest”.
Besides the other kinds of oppression, many thousands of women in detention are getting forcibly drugged, to ensure they’re not fertile while they’re forcibly detained. Honestly, if anything like this were happening anywhere in the West, the U.N. would respond in a clear and aggressive way, and if things didn’t change, there would be declarations of war. If France, or Canada, or America, or Spain—or even Russia or Turkey, which are definitely more authoritarian than the average country—were doing this stuff at this scale, there would be international outcry, sanctions, etc, at the very least. But, people in charge in the world have low moral expectations of China. It’s a great moral shame, which no nation is willing to address in a way that makes sense, given the enormity of the injustice.
The Response of Christians(?)
I haven’t found a lot of Christian leaders speaking out about this, and honestly, I don’t know what exactly anybody can do. It’s not like you can plan a mission trip, or send money or something. But I hope we will start to talk about it.
Jason Jones is a big name in the pro-life community, who has brought up the situation of the Uyghurs, and tried to do something. You can read some of his articles on the Stream.
In that second article, he talks some about the hypocrisy of some American leftists, who refer to “concentration camps” at America’s southern border. America’s “concentration camps” are places where immigration officers treat people at least as humanely as immigration officials in any other country would treat them under the same circumstances. These are places where they’re actually protecting people from human traffickers, who find every possible way to make money off of people’s suffering, as they look for a way into America. What’s at least as frustrating is that these same leftists ignore the actual concentration camps in China. It’s incredible that a handful of American politicians can use photo ops at the border to dominate the global conversation with their favorite fad political issue—which they have little or no intention of solving—and steal people’s attention away from the really urgent problems in the world.
I’m really glad someone was willing to point that out. Jason Jones is a gifted movie producer, and also a solid human rights activist who has worked with Muslim groups to try to encourage political leaders to respond to what’s happening in Xinjiang.
He has also pointed out some of the characteristics of a real concentration camp:
- Involuntary medication.
- Forced abortions.
- Forced sterilizations. And even
- Summary executions.
Most of these things are policy. They are not simply done by irresponsible officials breaking the rules. Except for rape, all of those things are the job of detention officers. So please don’t let people get away with trying to compare what people are suffering in Xinjiang with any of the injustices people suffer at the hands of any government in the West. It’s not even close to the same.
If you want to continue to follow what’s happening in Xinjiang, the best resource I know of is a blog called “art of life in Chinese Central Asia”, which is at livingotherwise.com/blog.
Darren Byler has done a lot of important research to help the English-speaking world understand the plight of the Uyghurs, and it’s a good place to start to learn more about what’s really going on there, and how hard the Chinese government is working to keep the whole world silent and confused about their treatment of the Uyghur Chinese population. That’s livingotherwise.com.
My only other request in closing is that you pray for Xinjiang, and for all the people living there, and for all the people who are affected in some way by China’s policies towards the Uyghurs. There’s a lot more I could say about the situation, and about why the Chinese government thinks this is all a good idea, but you can find more research and commentary elsewhere.
Uyghurs are persecuted because of their DNA
This episode is actually an introduction to a talk on the prophetic history of the pro-life movement in Hong Kong. Send me a message to hear the full talk.
Click on the @asia.for.life profile link to listen, and listen to today’s episode at:
This post is also available in: 繁體中文