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#22: Defending "Forced Abortions"?
Also in his chapter on DeLay-Saipan, Franken exudes an anger at "Tom DeLay's defense of a system that involved forcing young women to get abortions" (page 177).
Every person should be outraged if even one employee were subject to such cruel treatment. But for Franken to state that Tom DeLay, or any American politician, "defended" such a "system" is a cheap and unfair personal attack. Here's why:
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), in which Saipan is located, is a territory of the United States and is under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Federal Courts.1
Although the CNMI has been subject to different minimum wage requirements and exempt from certain immigration laws, there is nothing that would allow an employer to treat an employee so inhumanely. In its special arrangement with the CNMI, the federal government did not allow the CNMI to throw human and constitutional rights out the window. If an employer broke any law regarding the treatment of an employee, then it was the responsibility of local or federal authorities to do something about it. Yet this writer's research was unable to uncover a single instance of the Justice Department or the Labor Department under President Clinton filing a case against a Saipan garment factory owner for maltreatment of its workers.2 (A 1999 article in the Saipan Tribune appears to support this finding as well.3)
On the day before a 1999 hearing on policies in the CNMI, House Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) said, "If there are the problems some allege, we also want to know why our federal agencies on the islands haven't addressed them under existing federal law."4 Contrary to the belief of many, there was no legal "loophole" that permitted savage treatment of employees.
A year earlier, in 1998, ABC's 20/20 program interviewed a Chinese woman on camera who said she was asked to undergo an abortion by her employee.5 Did ABC report the name of this woman and her workplace to federal authorities? If not, why not? If so, what did the Clinton administration do with this information? In light of the on-camera testimony, the case would appear to be a "slam dunk" for prosecutors. Was the Clinton administration defending forced abortions? Of course not (that would be a cheap personal attack), but the lack of prosecutorial action by the Clinton administration should raise some serious concern.
Finally, Brian Ross and 20/20 may have reached a different conclusion about the so-called "system" of "forced abortions" if they had spoken to Kok Hiong Pang of the Chinese Christian Church, the largest Chinese church in Saipan. In an April 1998 interview, Pang is cited (emphasis mine),
"Mr. Pang said that he and his wife had counseled women, who comprise the majority of the imported garment workers, in crisis pregnancies and other difficulties without ever encountering a worker who was being coerced into having an abortion or committing sex crimes. 'There may have been a few cases where these things happen,' said Mr. Pang, 'but it is not 'rampant,' as the investigators say. This is a lie'."6
[Special note: If you wish to write to me regarding this post, please read this first. Thank you.]
1 "Directory of Ninth Circuit Federal Courts": http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/web/sdocuments.nsf/0/1efd0e8a7d2d63c6882564580066aba2?OpenDocument.
2 Citations and inspections, such as those by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, which falls under the Department of Labor), excluded.
3 "The vicious anti-CNMI crusade continues," Saipan Tribune, January 12, 1999. http://www.saipantribune.com/archives/newsstoryarch.aspx?cat=3&newsID=655&archdte=1/12/1999 12:00:00 AM.
4 Audrey Hudson, "Congress to examine politics in the Pacific: Panels will probe labor union effort," Washington Times, September 14, 1999, p. A1.
5 One place for a partial video and transcript is at the far-left Democracy Now web site: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/04/1524256. Accessed January 19, 2006.
6 Mindy Belz, "Micromanaging Micronesia? Playing politics with persecution," World Magazine, April 18, 1998. http://www.worldmag.com/displayarticle.cfm?id=1948.