DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – Lisa Smiley's parents had six children—five daughters and one son—the three youngest of whom were born illegally during the time China enforced its one-child policy. Without her parents' pro-life beliefs, Lisa would never have been born.
"If [my parents] had believed differently, following society's views on girls and obeying unjust laws, my sisters and I would not be alive today."
"Despite what the government and society were preaching, my parents and extended family had very strong family values, loved children and didn't want to abort any of us," Smiley writes in a blog post on Bound4Life, a group dedicated to ending abortion through prayer and silent protest.
Since the one-child policy was implemented, Chinese medical professionals performed more than 330 million abortions, 196 million sterilizations, and placed 403 million intrauterine devices, according to national data from 2013 reported in the Financial Times.
SAVED FROM ABORTION
"We are fortunate in America today that no mother has to break the law to choose life," Smiley said. "But I grieve for the country of China, my motherland. Over 300 million lives lost, each with a personal story of tragedy... and to think my sisters and I could have been counted among that statistic."
The Chinese population nears 1.4 billion and represents almost 20 percent of the global population, and it might have been up to 30 percent higher without the family planning policy, the Times points out.
The reported number of abortions is likely extremely low because women desperate to avoid punishment did not report pregnancies or abortions.
"My mom has shared stories about what they had to do in order to keep us safe from the government," Smiley said. "When she became pregnant with each of the youngest three girls, she would have to go into hiding for months."
The members of the family could not risk being at home at the same time. Smiley's parents used a network of extended family for childcare, and her mother would travel away from the family for months to deliver the youngest child in secret. "Government officials would come looking for women like her who violated the law," Smiley said.
China recently updated its one-child policy to allow for two children in a decision that Olivia Enos at the Daily Signal says is "neither a fundamental policy shift nor a long-term solution to China's economic dilemma."
"We were not just illegal; we were also socially unaccepted," Smiley said, referring to the stigma against daughters in favor of sons.
This damaging traditional preference for male children has led to a 30 million-person difference between China's male and female population, a nearly four percent gap, according to CNN.
Smiley's eldest sister "heard people condemning our family, saying, What bad luck to have so many girls! That family will surely have no future." Smiley says government officials questioned her sister at school about the location of her parents and family members.
China's "coercive family planning" in the form of the two-child policy "continues the government's practice of meddling in personal family decisions," Enos said. "Moreover, it is unlikely to overcome the demographic challenges it seeks to remedy."
The sex-ratio gap that resulted from the one-child policy will likely be exacerbated by increased economic inequality in the country, CNN reported.
In order to protect their six children, Smiley's parents bribed officials. "As poor farmers who grew their own food, my parents didn't have to rely on the government for their livelihood," Smiley said. "Yet they did make just enough to pay a small sum to a few government workers, who treated our family kindly and didn't report us to the higher officials."
"If we had stayed in China, I don't know what would have happened to us," Smiley said. Her family moved to New Zealand when she was four years old in order to escape the oppressive official and cultural attitudes toward large families.
Without people like Smiley's parents who risked their safety and wellbeing to protect their children. "If they had believed differently, following society's views on girls and obeying unjust laws, my sisters and I would not be alive today."
A mother herself now, Smiley advocates for pro-life decisions. "Children are a blessing and every life has value. I am so fortunate that my parents believed this to be true."