It’s worth a reminder sometimes that the term “reproductive rights” doesn’t just mean the right not not reproduce, like with abortion. Reproductive rights can also mean the right to produce, like in the case of Mei Fun Wong, a Chinese woman seeking asylum in the U.S. because she fears she’ll be persecuted for removing her IUD. Wong, 44, lives in New York City and has been fighting to stay in the U.S. for years. Back in 1991, the Chinese government forced her to get an IUD implanted as part of its one child per family population control policy. Wong said the IUD caused her physical pain, but doctors refused to remove it. She had it secretly removed by a physician she found for herself. When another doctor discovered during a routine exam that the IUD had been removed, the government held her for three days until she agreed to have it re-implanted. She tried to flee to Hong Kong, claiming she wanted to get away from being forced to wear the IUD, and was jailed for four months and fined. Finally, Wong arrived in the U.S. in 2000 — following her husband, who fled to the U.S. after his involvement in Tiananmen Square — had her IUD removed in New York, and now she wants asylum so she can escape the Chinese government’s “menacing” behavior.When Wong came to the U.S. with her nine-year-old son, they lacked proper documentation. They were caught, and in 2002, immigration ordered that Wong be deported back to China and an immigration appeals panel backed up the decision in 2008. Both argued that an IUD was not permanent and therefore less bad. But now the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered that Wong’s case be looked at again, prompting the question of whether forcing women to use unwanted birth control fits the definition of persecution.
Wong’s truthfulness is coming into question because some say the province she is from allows two children, rather than one. To me, that fact ultimately doesn’t matter. (It should be noted that Wong and her husband went on to conceive another child in the U.S.) Either way, this is a question about reproductive rights and what they mean to human rights. Mei Fun Wong should be granted asylum and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should use this opportunity to make a big stink about China’s persecution of reproductive rights.
That may never happen — China is, after all, supposed to be our ally — but it looks like a clear-cut case of right and wrong to me. What do you think?