Shortly after his miraculous escape from house arrest, blind dissident Chen Guangcheng who has been noted for his fight against forced abortions proclaimed that God helped him escape, without identifying which God he thought it was. Between then and his touchdown in New York, right wingers in the United States were quick to claim him as one of their own as they slammed the Obama administration for not doing enough for him because he’s pro-choice. Now, David Gibson of Religion News Service asks, and answers, the million dollar question: Is he “pro-life”?:
Conservative media critic Terry Mattingly even detected a secular bias in the news coverage, complaining that reports were ignoring the fact that Chen “is actually a pro-life activist” and a “Christian activist who sees China’s often brutal one-child policy as a violation of human rights as well as religious liberty.”
But the reality differs significantly from the scenario laid out by Mattingly and others: for one thing, Chen Guangcheng is not a Christian, and, more notably, he may not even be what most abortion opponents would consider “pro-life.”
That’s because Chen’s cause in China was not an effort to halt legal abortion per se, but to make Chinese authorities comply with their own laws against forced abortions and sterilizations, a position also advocated by the Obama administration.
“If it’s not forced abortion, I don’t think he’s necessarily against that,” said Bob Fu, a Chinese-born Christian and close friend of Chen who heads Texas-based China Aid, which lobbies for religious freedom in China.
Chen would not oppose “voluntary abortion,” Fu said, since Chen’s focus is on “the rule of law” — on making China a society that respects its own laws, which are routinely flouted, and on promoting the human rights and dignity of its citizens.
Bob Fu also notes later on that most of Chen’s friends in the United States are Christians. Indeed, even in the United States, that may be the case now. Former Tiananmen student leader Chai Ling who spoke up for Chen at congressional hearings to lobby for his release also had her own dramatic conversion to Christianity two years ago.
As a believer in “natural religion”, said Bob Fu, Chen might be considered “sort of a pro-lifer”.