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Supreme Court declines to hear asylum case involving forced abortion

Unresolved: Can spouses of victims of China's population control claim harm if they weren't officially married?

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The US Supreme Court has declined to take up a case examining whether a Chinese national should be granted political asylum in the United States because his wife was forced to abort their first child under China's harsh population-control measures.

The action, announced on Monday, means that lower court rulings rejecting the Chinese citizen's asylum claims remain in place. At issue in the case was whether the spouse of someone who had suffered directly under the Chinese program – enduring a forced abortion or sterilization – could claim political asylum in the US.

Immigration judges and a federal appeals court had earlier rejected Yi Qiang Yang's application for asylum, saying that he did not qualify since he and his wife were not officially married under Chinese law.

Lawyers for Mr. Yang countered that he and his wife participated in a traditional Chinese marriage ceremony when he was 21 and she was 17.

As part of its population control policies, the Chinese government has banned legal marriage for any man under 22 and any woman under age 20. Rather than wait, the couple wed through a traditional ceremony attended by family and friends. The Chinese government does not recognize such marriages as genuine and legal.

In addition, the Chinese marriage law carries heavy consequences. When Yang's wife, Jian Hui Ling, became pregnant, she had to hide from authorities to protect their unborn child.


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