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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
US asylum rule on forced abortion
Women who have been forced to have abortions will be eligible to seek asylum in the US along with their partners, a court has ruled.

The court in California was ruling on the case of Chinese bookkeeper Li Zhen.

It decided she and her partner could stay to apply for asylum as the company they worked for in China forced her to have an abortion.

The judges likened the case to forced sterilisation - already grounds for asylum in the US.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided the same protection should be applied to those who have been forced to undergo abortions.

"Both forms of persecution have serious, ongoing effects," the court in San Francisco said.

"We see no way to distinguish between the victims of forced sterilisation and the victims of forced abortion."

Overstayed

Li Zhen fell pregnant in 1980 and the company she and her partner, carpenter Tang Zizhi, worked for in China ordered her to have an abortion because they were not married at the time.

Mr Tang testified that Ms Li cried and screamed but the abortion went ahead.

A decade later the couple were sent to work in the US territory of Guam and overstayed their visa.

The US government tried to deport them but they appealed, calling the abortion persecution.

An immigration court disagreed, finding that the abortion was not forced because Ms Li did not try to go into hiding after she was ordered to undergo the procedure.

The appeal judges overruled that decision, saying both forced sterilisation and forced abortion inflicted pain, psychological trauma and shame.


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