The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that forced abortion is grounds for asylum in the United States.

The 9th Circuit decision concerned a man named Zi Zhi Tang who was sent to Guam in 1991 by his Chinese construction company. In 2002, U.S. Immigration officials told Tang that his work visa expired. Tang applied for asylum citing a 1980 forced abortion performed on his wife who was then his girlfriend.

A U.S. immigration judge ordered the couple deported because he decided that the abortion wasn’t forced since she didn’t go into hiding after receiving the order for the abortion. Instead Tang and his wife had stayed home from work to prepare for the abortion. Company officials from his wife’s company arrived at the home and took Tang’s wife to the company health clinic for the abortion– which was performed without anesthesia. The appeals court found that this indeed did constitute force.

It is common to hear stories of women who flee an order for an abortion only to have Chinese government officials imprison family members in an effort to force the woman to return. Because of this, it’s understandable why Mrs. Tang might not have gone into hiding.

This ruling will help in recognizing the need for asylum for women fleeing forced abortions.

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