NRL News

“One-Child Nation”: New Documentary Details the Horrors of China’s One-Child Policy

by | Jan 28, 2020

By Steven W. Mosher

When I arrived in China in March 1989 I had no idea that I was about to be caught up in the most barbaric population control program the world had ever seen. It became known as the “one-child policy,” but for me and its countless millions of victims, it was a living nightmare.

I will never forget that sight of sobbing women who were arrested—arrested!—for the crime of being pregnant without permission. Or being with them when they were incarcerated, for days and weeks on end, until they submitted to the abortion that was being demanded of them.

Then came the actual forced abortion itself—the shocking sight of women seven, eight, and even nine months pregnant given lethal injections into their wombs to kill their unborn children, followed by cesarean section abortions to remove their now dead of dying babies.

All these years later, the sheer cruelty of it still shocks my conscience, as it did at the time. Imagine being in the operating room as nearly full-term babies were being killed. For myself, I don’t have to “imagine” it. I was there, standing only a few feet away from the operating table in stunned disbelief as it unfolded before my eyes.

Note to Virginia Governor Northam and the modern Democrat Party: None of the babies born alive after failed abortions were allowed to live.

Now comes a documentary, produced by Chinese victims of the policy that confirms everything that I have been saying about the one-child policy for the past four decades. Entitled “One-Child Nation”, it is a no-holds-barred account of the four three-and-a-half decades of physical pain and emotional suffering that the policy has inflicted on hundreds of millions (!) of Chinese mothers and their families.

To say that I feel vindicated would be an understatement. It is never pleasant being a voice crying in the wilderness, and in my case my punishment for speaking out of turn was severe. As Monica Showalter writes in American Thinker:

Remember Stanford scholar Steven Mosher? Way back in the 1980s, the man was reviled in scholarly circles for exposing just these brutal realities about China. Instead of being praised for adding to the scholarly body of knowledge, he was abused, slandered, accused of process crimes, and eventually kicked out of his Ph.D. program because he reported the truth about what was happening. This was at the urging of the Chinese government, which wanted all news of its cruelty kept hidden — the lies-violence cycle that Alexander Solzhenitsyn described as so necessary to all totalitarian tyrannies.

I recall that controversy back when I was a student studying Chinese history, and my professor (I won’t name him, because, well, I liked him) called Mosher “a rat” because his revelations about China’s forced abortions and human rights violations angered the Chinese communist government and caused it to limit opportunities for scholarly research on China.

Yet the only thing Mosher was really guilty of was the highest responsibility of a scholar, which was to tell the truth.

Most of my Stanford faculty colleagues weren’t the least bit interested in the truth. Some of them, like Paul Ehrlich, even defended China’s policy on the grounds that the country supposedly had an “overpopulation problem.” Another, the late William Skinner, explained to me that China’s treatment of women is no worse than America’s. “I find the forced abortion of women in the third trimester of pregnancy is repugnant,” he told me after reading my reports on China. “But it is no more repugnant than the refusal of the Reagan Administration to fund abortions.”

You would think that a full professor at one of America’s most prestigious universities would be too smart to make such a fundamental error in logic: The principled refusal to participate in homicidal acts by funding them—the Reagan Administration’s position–can hardly be equated with state-mandated mass murder practiced by the Chinese Communist Party.

I left Stanford, shaking the dust from my feet.

Banished from academe but not silenced, I continued to speak out against China’s misguided population control policy at NRLC conventions and other venues in the U.S. and around the world. I wrote a dozen books as well, including A Mother’s Ordeal, in which I told the story of a Chinese population control worker who rejected the policy to have a second child—and then had to flee the country to avoid the same fate—a forced abortion—that she herself has visited on other pregnant moms.

It became a best seller in a dozen countries and is still—even if I do say so myself—probably the best first-person account of the one-child policy in its heyday that is in print.

For the most part, however, the voices of the victims and the victimizers were silent. Occasional reports would breach the great Chinese firewall, reporting that women were being fired from their jobs, or their homes destroyed to force them to submit to an abortion. We at the Population Research Institute also documented cases where the family members of pregnant moms were arrested and held as hostages until the women presented themselves for abortions. Or where illegal babies that they had secretly given birth to were taken by officials and sold to orphanages, who in turn allowed foreigners to adopt them—for a price. The cruelty and inhumanity of the Communist Party officials carrying out the policy knew no bounds.

Even twenty and thirty years into the one-child policy, however, it still had defenders among so-called Progressives, who still believed that China had no choice but to sacrifice the unborn to avoid (once again) “overpopulation.” Other Leftists simply averted their eyes from the carnage, as they do whenever the issue of abortion comes up.

The release of “One Child Nation” has opened the eyes of many. Nick Schager, a Progressive in good standing, wrote he wrote for the Daily Beast that “China’s horrifying child-killing policy was a reign of terror” that resulted “in countless abductions, forced abortions, and child deaths.”

While “One Child Nation” reveals the full gamut of human rights abuses that I witnessed so many years ago, it unfortunately buys into the falsehood that Chinese women were having too many babies. The restoration of China’s greatness required, the Party claimed, drastic limitations on births. To frighten the population into submitting to the one-child policy, the state propagated the lie that without strict birth limitations, “China would have faced famine and potential cannibalism.”

The Communist Party use of the threat of “cannibalism” is bitterly ironic, since that is in one sense precisely what they set about doing: cannibalizing China’s future by eliminating 400 million of the most hardworking, intelligent, and business-minded people on the planet.

China today is older today because half of the last two generations of Chinese young people have been eliminated in utero or after birth. It is poorer today because of the deliberate destruction of what amounts to trillions of dollars of human capital. Its fertility rate of 1.05 children per woman is the second lowest in the world and it is about to experience absolute population decline, all because of the one-child policy.

And this is only the beginning. I believe that China may be entering what we demographers call a demographic recession, which is a decades-long economic contraction brought on by an aging and shrinking population. In fact, China is aging more rapidly than any country in the world today and, to make matters worse, it will grow old before it grows rich.

I believe that, in the not-too-distant future, the Communist Party will embark on another “population control” program, this time not directed at the unborn but at the elderly. These “useless eaters,” the Party will say, must be eliminated to reduce the burden on society.

Given the brutal history of the one-child policy, why should anyone be surprised if this happens.

Editor’s note. Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute ( and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order and A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy.

Categories: China