Pat Robertson in deep trouble after defending China's one-child policy
The founder of the Christian Coalition and the Christian Broadcasting Network is practically being excommunicated by his colleagues in the Religious Right. The broadcaster appeared on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports Monday evening and was asked why he supports improved trade relations with China when the country's one-child policy in effect mandates abortions. "Well, you know, I don't agree with it," he began, presumably referring to the one-child policy. Then he continued with a lengthy defense of the policy.
But at the same time, they've got 1.2 billion people, and they don't know what to do. If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable.

Right now, they run the risk of a tremendous unemployment. There are some antiquated factories that the government owns that have to be shut down that is going to put hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people out of work. And the leadership is like on a teeter-totter board, they can fall off if the population gets too restive.

So, I think that right now they're doing what they have to do. I don't agree with the forced abortion, but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard.

Yes, that's Pat Robertson saying that the United States shouldn't interfere with China's mandatory-abortion policy. Fortunately. Blitzer is a good interviewer and followed up. "But in effect, won't your critics on the right be saying that Pat Robertson is justifying abortions in China?" he asked.

"Well, I just think they need to get involved in what's happening," Robertson replied. He then continued with a brief discourse on how the abortions would lead to "a demographic catastrophe" because "they're allowing only the males to be born." That's bad, he said, because "There's going to be a critical shortage of wives. The young men won't have any women to marry, so it will, in a sense, dilute the—what they consider the racial purity of the Han Chinese."

"Some [say] that you're letting China off the hook too easily." Blitzer immediately responded. He was referring then to the spy plane incident, but could well have been talking about Robertson's comments in general. It goes without saying that "some" won't let Robertson off so easily. Uproar began as soon as the Associated Press and others took note of Robertson's comments and hasn't died down since. Robertson quickly issued a clarification:

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I did not express my full conviction in regard to the question of population growth of mainland China. I have been and will always be strongly pro-life, and my teachings over the past forty years in private and in public reflect my deeply held convictions.

In the CNN interview, I did not preface my remarks with my long-held view, but I merely expressed what to me seemed obvious … that the Chinese people with a population of 1.2 billion will face a tragic dilemma of massive proportions if they permit their population to explode upwards of 2 billion people.

The Chinese Government has by law restricted the birth rate to one child per family. Given their situation, intelligent family planning reflects an obvious necessity; however, I am unalterably opposed to the policy which would result in forced abortions or sex selection.

I regret that my unrehearsed comments on Wolf Blitzer were not spoken with sufficient clarity to communicate my life-long opposition to voluntary and forced abortion as a means of population control.

And yes, that's Pat Robertson saying that he opposes abortion but pretty much thinks China's one-child policy is necessary. "It's a clarification that doesn't clarify," Charles A. Donovan, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, tells The Washington Post. "I'm saddened and surprised. This policy [of forced abortion] doesn't need comfort, and it certainly doesn't need comfort from a Christian and a conservative."

Former Christian Coalition Director of Legislative Affairs Marshall Wittmann (who now works for the Heritage Foundation) sees serious repercussions for Robertson: "The Christian Coalition was already on life-support. Robertson's remarks probably mean its demise. The difficulty here is who is going to be the moral leader for religious conservatism."

Similar statements came from Concerned Women for America ("Babies are not the cause of China's problems—communism is") and the Traditional Values Coalition's Louis Sheldon ("Anyway you slice it, it's still baloney").

The New York Times reports that "officials at some organizations opposed to abortion declined to comment," but doesn't say which organizations. And those comments reporter Gustav Niebuhr did pick up weren't terribly strong. "The original statement was so shocking and depressing that I'm gratified that he has clarified it," says Gary Bauer "But the fact remains that a number of people that ought to know better, including some good American capitalists and too many conservative leaders, have been willing to make excuses for reprehensible behavior by Beijing." The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land merely calls Robertson's statement "a caution that we need to be very careful and very precise, lest we leave the wrong impression."

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One of the more interesting responses to Robertson's comment comes from Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. She points out that by supporting China's one-child policy and opposing abortion, Robertson showed "the deeply cynical side of his views. … The only thing he is consistent about is his opposition to the right of women to choose."

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