Steven Mosher from the Population Research Institute recently received this anonymous letter from a grieving mother in China who said, “It is better to be a criminal in China than a pregnant mother.”

She went on to talk about the discrimination against women that takes place if a woman has an “illegal” child in violation of the one-child policy. A woman who simply wants to be a mother is treated worse than a criminal:

•She is not allowed to apply for a job without a “Family Planning Certificate” proving that she does not have any “illegal” children, whereas a released criminal can.

• In some cities, the Family Planning Bureau operates outside the law and can illegally arrest and detain without an arrest warrant. The Family Planning Bureau is not authorized to carry out such arrests but it does so anyway. Criminals do not go through this injustice.

•She cannot take legal action because no people’s court will handle cases involving family planning issues.

•She is not allowed to hire an attorney although by law she has that right and criminals enjoy that right.

•She is forced to pay 20 or 30 Yuan a night in prison awaiting trial, although by law a suspected criminal pays nothing.

•The law protects the unborn child of a criminal, even if that criminal has been sentenced to death. The authorities wait until the child has been born before carrying out the sentence. A pregnant woman with an “illegal” child does not have such legal protection.

•Criminals are permitted to communicate with their family. On the other hand, a pregnant woman and her family members can be held incommunicado by the Family Planning Bureau indefinitely.

•If a woman and her family are unable to pay the fine for conceiving an illegal child, the child will be forcibly aborted or, if born, will be sold. She can also be forcibly sterilized.

It is a tragedy that pregnant women whose only “crime” is wanting to keep their children are treated so inhumanely in China. If a woman is too poor to pay a fine for having more than one child, she is subjected to cruel treatment that destroys the life of both the mother and her child. Even criminals have more rights in China than pregnant women. To read the full letter go to Population Research Institute.