Given the precariousness of the situation and knowing he would likely go back to prison, Zhang Lin wanted to get Anni out of China, and contacted women's rights activist Reggie Littlejohn for help.
President and founder of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, an organization dedicated to fighting forced abortion and gendercide in China, Littlejohn and her husband agreed to take in both Anni and her older sister Ruli. Four people were jailed for helping them to get out of the country.
Now, after just two and a half years in the United States, Anni has gone from speaking no English to getting straight-A's and is one of the top students in her class. She began piano lessons shortly after arriving to the U.S., and recently won a competition to play in New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall.
Littlejohn, who has taken on full parental responsibilities for Ruli and Anni, told CNA May 4 that to her, Anni is "an example."
"As a second daughter, girls like that are commonly aborted due to gendercide. And also her mother was almost forcibly aborted…her mother was so distressed about this that she actually contemplated suicide, it just tore her apart," Littlejohn said.
However, she said that when she looks at Anni, who she considers as her own daughter, "I think of how beautiful and how brilliant she is and this is the kind of talent and beauty and light and love and joy that are being lost through forced abortion and sex-selective abortion in China every day."
While many might believe that these practices have stopped with China's recent implementation of a two-child policy, which went into effect Jan. 1, Littlejohn says this is far from being true.
"The new Two-Child Policy is nothing to celebrate about. They used to kill every child after one, now they kill every child after two. So the entire infrastructure of coercion is still in place," she said.
"You still have to have government permission to have two children. It's two children per couple, so if you're not in a couple, you can't have a kid. So single women are still forcibly aborted in China and that accounts for a very large proportion of the abortions," she added.
The State Department's report also indicated a system of coercion surrounding reproductive rights in China, reporting that "the country's birth-limitation policies retained harshly coercive elements in law and practice."
The report spoke of the "intense pressure" put on families by the police to enforce birth quotas, resulting in "instances of local family-planning officials using physical coercion to meet government goals."
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"Such practices included the mandatory use of birth control and the forced abortion of unauthorized pregnancies," it read, noting that in cases in which the family already had two children, "one parent was often required to undergo sterilization."
There are even links between job promotion and success in meeting the birth limitations. Police job promotion, in particular, "provided a powerful structural incentive for officials to employ coercive measures to meet population goals."
While officially prohibited in China, sex-selective abortions "continued because of traditional preference for male children and the birth-limitation policy," the report stated.
"Female infanticide, gender-biased abortions, and the abandonment and neglect of baby girls remained problems due to the traditional preference for sons and the birth-limitation policy."
Littlejohn said she doesn't expect the number of gendercide abortions to go down even under the two-child policy, because when a family has a daughter for their first child, "it's routine to abort or abandon" a second daughter so that the family can reserve the place for a boy.
She said she has been discouraged that the amount of international pressure to stop these atrocities from happening in China have dropped after the country's leaders changed the rules on the one-child policy.