The Chinese government is angry, Stanford reacts, and the student is out. But for other reasons, the school insists.

Population-control policies in the People’s Republic of China restrict most families to only one child. If a woman who already has a child becomes pregnant, or if she becomes pregnant without government authorization, she is counseled until she agrees to have an abortion. Often those abortions occur well along in the pregnancy, sometimes after the sixth month.

Chinese law prohibits those third-trimester abortions, and all abortions performed under duress. But the government’s strict family-planning measures lead to violations, sometimes under pressure from local population control officials.

Those charges are being made by a former Stanford University graduate student, Steven W. Mosher. Mosher documented abuses of the Chinese birth control program in a 1981 article published in Taiwan. The article raised a storm of protest in the Chinese government. Mosher says the outcry led the Stanford anthropology department to dismiss him from its doctoral program.

He also charges that Peking linked the future of its scholarly exchange program with how severely Stanford dealt with him. Stanford officials deny it. “Our official statements have not been written to placate the Chinese,” said Clifford Barnett, chairman of Stanford’s anthropology department. “That was never our goal or intent.… Our own investigating committee said there’s no way you can connect Mosher with responsibility for Chinese government policies.”

Barnett said Mosher’s dismissal stemmed from illegal and unethical acts he allegedly committed while doing research in China. He declined to specify what the illegal acts were, saying such disclosure could endanger residents of the village Mosher was studying.

“It wasn’t just one little thing [that Mosher did],” Barnett said. “It was a whole series of things … a whole pattern of behavior.”

Mosher has appealed his dismissal twice. The first appeal went against him. A decision on the second is pending. Meanwhile, he continues to write and talk about abuses of Chinese family planning policies.

He said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program that a village with a population of 8,000 was given a birth quota of only seven babies for the year 1981. In The Wall Street Journal, he linked such strict family-planning measures with the rise in Chinese female infanticide.

Since the Chinese government provides no retirement benefits for those who live in rural areas, sons care for their aging parents. When a girl is born, some parents allow the baby to die in the hope that the next child they have will be a boy. Like forced abortions, female infanticide violates Chinese laws.

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