Thursday, June 07, 2007

US Courts Grant Asylum Over Forced Abortion

The AP is reporting that the federal court have ruled women who've been forced to have abortions by their government, such as China, may be granted the protection of asylum. It's an interesting ruling predicated upon the allowance of victims of forced sterilization to seek asylum in the United States, and extends the grant to spouses as well as the victim of the forced procedure.

One of the questions at the heart of this case was what counts as forced - in the case, the woman did not try to flee before her forced abortion, so immigration lawyers argued that it was not an issue of force or unwanted pregnancy (ie she would have tried to hide/flee/get away). That strikes me as, bluntly, dumb. It's another variation of blaming the victim, a concept we at least try to discredit.

But on the other hand, the couple sought asylum in 2002, and the forced abortion reportedly happened in 1980. They never sought asylum prior to that, even though they had lived in Guam since 1991 - in fact, the asylum appeal only arose when the couple's work visa expired and they were being sent back to China.

Given that we routinely deny asylum appeals and return people to countries like Libya, where they will undoubtedly face religious or political persecution, jail, perhaps even death, one has to wonder at the justice in this ruling, for an incident that happened 27 years ago. On the one hand, you don't want to slip into a truly utilitarian measure of one person's plight over another, but on the other, at times, it becomes hard to not wonder at what appears to be blatant and legal injustice.

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