Chinese church holds pro-life protest

Abortion | Leaders hope their public witness will awaken the church to the humanity of unborn children
by June Cheng
Posted 5/12/15, 01:55 pm

For about 10 minutes on Saturday, young men and women stood in front of major hospitals in Chengdu, China, holding up red pro-life banners and graphic photos of abortion. After snapping a few photos and capturing the attention of a few passersby, the groups quickly left to keep ahead of local police officers who likely would have arrested them.

Their goal wasn’t to hold the protest but to start a conversation on social media with photos of their activism. The signs read “Unborn children are children too,” “Men don’t take responsibility, so women abort,” “If unborn children aren’t human, than what is a human?” Other signs depicted the abortion process and images of aborted babies next to the words, “Is this your ‘pain-free’ abortion?” referring to a commonly advertised promise from Chinese hospitals and abortion centers.

The public demonstration put on by Chengdu Early Rain Reformed Church is unprecedented in China, where abortions are common practice even among Christians and between 13 and 30 million babies are aborted each year. But Early Rain, a 500-person house church, is no stranger to attracting attention on the topic of abortion. For the past few years, on the June 1 Children’s Day holiday, congregants bought ad space on buses and passed out brochures telling women not to abort. Authorities have arrested and released members of the church’s pro-life ministry in the past, but Jonny Fan, the group’s leader, said it will continue to find ways to spread the pro-life message in China. In the past few months, the group has translated into Chinese resources on abortion and adoption and visited nearby churches to talk about its pro-life work.

Fan uploaded the photos from Saturday’s protest on Weibo and Wechat (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter and Facebook). Since then, more than 6,000 people have viewed the photos and hundreds have reposted a short blog post about the event.

“This is just the beginning,” Fan said. “We give [people] the questions because we want people to think [about abortion].”

The pro-life ministry plans to take advantage of the ability of videos and photos to go viral on the internet to reach an audience beyond Chengdu. Its next step is to release a video of Fan asking people on the street their thoughts about abortion and when life begins. He found that while many agreed the 3-month fetal model was a child and abortion was killing a person, they also conceded that if they or their partner were to have an unplanned pregnancy, they would still consider getting an abortion.

Fan’s group also filmed a video of interviews with Christians about their own experiences with the aggressive enforcement of China’s one-child policy, the ways abortion has affected their lives, and the blessings of having two or three children. Fan knows the pain firsthand: When he told his mother about his pro-life work, she confided she previously had seven abortions.

“I can’t believe that,” he said. “It means that I had seven brothers and sisters.”

For now, the social media campaign is targeted toward those in the Chinese church, where abortions are still prevalent. Fan plans to write a public letter to the church about the necessity for the people of God to protect life. Early Rain has taken that message to heart: Last year the pro-life ministry helped provide a safe house for a young pregnant college student whose parents were pressuring her to have an abortion. Two weeks ago, she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy, who is now the apple of his grandmother’s eye.

June Cheng

June is the East Asia correspondent for WORLD Magazine. Follow June on Twitter @JuneCheng_World.

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