"In her grief, Zhang, 59, was forced to come to terms with the marginal life of a childless middle-aged woman of few resources in a society where children and the extension of the family line are essential to a person’s survival. She began to blame her husband, feeling he did not support her enough to have a second child. Zhang retreated from society, even living in a monastery for several years to escape the pain.
Each year 76,000 families in China lose their only child, according to an annual report by Chinese Ministry of Health in 2010. In June 2012, for the first time, over 80 parents from all over the country who had lost their only child marched to Beijing to protest the policy and the meager compensation they are given in front of the National Family Planning office.
Zhang heard about the protest and began to think about her own experience. Having one child had not been her choice. Indeed she had been pregnant twice after she gave birth to her son, thinking that, as a farmer, she would be exempt from the one-child policy.
But she says her county’s family planning department coerced her into having abortions under the threat of losing her husband’s teaching job and their house. The abortions were administered late, she said once when she was five months pregnant and once at eight months, when a gruesome procedure is required.