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A Mother's Ordeal: One Woman's Fight Against China's One-Child Policy

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  307 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Written by Steven W. Mosher, the foremost expert on China's population control policy, comes a beautifully crafted true story of a young Chinese woman who, as a nurse for the family planning program, built her career out of forcing women into abortions...until she became pregnant with an illegal child. ...more
paperback, 335 pages
Published June 28th 1993 by Perennial (first published 1993)
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Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up after a recommendation from awhile back, and I didn't put it down until I'd read it cover to cover. It was gripping. For me, at least.

It's the story of a woman who grew up in China under Chairman Mao, lived through a famine, his Cultural Revolution, communism, poverty, craziness, marriage, a baby, a child she was forced to abort under their one child policy, a stint as a population control worker where she performed and assisted with many abortions (as far along as a babies
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a Chinese adoptee, reading this book both broke my heart and opened my eyes. Learning about what women went through made my heart ache, yet made me realize how fortunate I am to be alive. I would highly recommend this book for adults who want to know more about China's One-Child Policy. ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Returning from China I was obsessed with learning more about the culture I had just experienced for nine months. This was an extraordinary book for its candid discussion on the one child policy. As a new mother I'm not sure I would even be able to finish it because of the description of forced abortions and forced fertility however it's a necessary read. My favorite part of the book was when the author, in response to the outpouring of support for her to receive asylum in the US due to her secon ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adoption
I read this book for my education credits for our upcoming adoption. It was fascinating to read one persons life experiences in the family planning department in china during the 1980's. It also gave me a much better understanding of China's history. It has led me to reading a lot more china history. I am glad I read this book. I think it will help me share Chinese history and culture with my new little boy. ...more
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
For large parts of this book I wrestled with nausia and generel discomfort at the vivid descriptions of abortions being made as late as during the birth itself. It was horrific to read and must have been even more horrifying to live through. This is without a doubt a book that makes you stop, think and re-evaluate.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Crystal by: Bobbi Cook
For Heaven's sake! I cannot believe that such barbaric practices are enforced. Reading this story about the recent history of China is so depressing. How could 1 billion people be puppets to a cruel and ridiculous government? How could they turn loyalty to family and authority into the worship of a party leader in the form of prayers and fighting with neighbors. They actually stopped being kind to each other because it was seen as a threat to the government. I, like many Americans, have not thou ...more
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
So I got a copy of this book when, as a member of my university's pro-life organization, I went to the lecture that the author was given. It was interesting, but I wasn't too keen on the book. Still, he was offering it at a discount rate, and it seemed rude not to buy it, so I grudgingly bought my copy and stood in line to have him sign it for me. I promptly tossed the book on my bookshelf and forgot about it. However, later I found myself needing something new to read, and, being too lazy to hi ...more
Melanie Franklin
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had no idea China went to such great lengths to inforce the 1-child policy. It's mind-blowing that abortion is murder in america, and in china the government FORCES women to have abotions. Evan late term, right up until the baby is born. The government views life starting at the first breath. If they abort before the child can take it's first breath, they see nothing wrong with it. They also see nothing wrong with leaving a 8 month old baby in the trash can to die. To avoid the child crying, t ...more
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-books
Really liked this book. I thought the author did a good job of explaining the culture - and making you cringe. Truly I didn't like the author, even when she changed her mind about forced abortions. I didn't feel sorry for her situation, but I did appreciate the challenges of growing up in a country where she didn't have the freedom to choose anything, let alone having more than one child.

It was most interesting to me as I was studying China in my econ class and learning about the changes some pe
Amanda Farley
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in health and women's issues
Fabulous look at the impact China's one child policy has on one family. Chi An was a nurse and a respected part of the one child task force taking part in and carrying out abortions to meet the requirements of the "one child" policy. Her life changes when she leaves to spent two years in America with her husband - a research scientist as far as I remember and while there inadvertantly conceives a second child. This family were eventually given asylum in America and Chi An's daughter was born saf ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-issues
This is one of the most horrifying books I've ever read - but found myself having a hard time putting it down. The viciously anti-human (the one-child policy only one example) side of Communism that you never quite hear about in textbooks or news articles becomes clear here. This book made me absolutely sick to my stomach and wanting to cry, but gave me a newfound appreciation of the freedoms that I usually take for granted and a deeper appreciation for the sanctity of life. ...more
Bernadette Raymer
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful and very powerful. It is an important book to read to understand the value of human life. I have read many books such as "Boys in the Boat" by Daniel Brown and "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. I would, in my own opinion, put this book at the same level as those. I did not put the book down however there were points in the book where it became very depressing and I was going to stop altogether. I am glad I fought through the story. It became one of my favorite books. ...more
Darlene Hayden
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a meaty book! Not only was her personal story interesting but learning how an entirely different country runs really opened my eyes. China's government, what demands it puts on their people was more than I ever imagined. This is a very graphic book that I am very glad I took the time to read. It will change you. ...more
Kristin White
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Completely unbelievable. Unfathomable that the government is/was so involved in the intimate affairs of women. This book was tough to read but completely fascinating.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely terrifying and gripping non-fiction account (published in 1993) of Chi An’s life in China. Chi An grew up in China under Chairman Mao, lived through a famine and the Cultural Revolution and communism and poverty, had a horrendous childbirth experience (C-section with no anesthesia, only acupuncture), was forced to abort her 2nd child under the one child policy, and served as a population control worker where she assisted with many forced abortions (even horrendous “post-birth abortion ...more
Winston Jen
Dec 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Awful. The author ignores the big picture. More children means more mouths to feed. Even in the most affluent society, children cannot work full-time until they're at least 18.

It seems Steven would want to bring us back to the days of children working in coal mines and doing unpaid labor on their parents' farms.
Derek Sanderson
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a page-turner!!! Very moving, powerful story!!!

Oh my, I lost sleep reading this book! It was so interesting, and very timely in an age, in North America, where idealistic youngsters are strangely considering the benefits of socialist or communist ideologies. When governments remove civil or human rights from citizens for the supposed good of the whole, oppression, in the enactment of those policies, is never far behind. China's one child policy is no exception! How dreadful, how cruel
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An absolutely heartrending and gripping read!
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sad. Crazy. Didn’t know much about this before reading this book.
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
An absolutely fascinating read, I had no idea all that this book would entail.
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abortion
This was a really good book, but the title is somewhat misleading – it wasn't just about the one child policy, it was about the writers life in China from the time when she was very young. It was fascinating to read about what it was like growing up under Mao in a communist China. The lack of freedom, the paranoia, the "cultural revolution", the great famine, the "great leap forward" – we get a first-hand Account of all of these things and learn a lot about Chinese culture. you learn about China ...more
Lisha Powell
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read the biography A Mother’s Ordeal, by Steven W. Mosher. The setting was mostly in China, beginning in 1949. The main character was Chi An, and mostly her struggles of being a nurse. The book takes you through the advents of Chi An’s life, but also gives the read information on the country during the time. Chi An had to make many difficult choices even from early years. Things that she once felt were important to her, later become difficult to justify in her mind. Since she became a nurse, s ...more
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable but true. This book isn't for the faint of heart.
It seems that life is not a precious commodity in China where it's citizens have been made to follow Communist rule for decades now. Abortion is an everyday occurrence at any stage of pregnancy. Women's rights have been completely been done away with and the government owns both the mother and the unborn child. It is difficult not to be judgmental of the woman in this book, although she was brainwashed since childhood in China. She di
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shell, Hannah, Erin
Recommended to Jessietaylortanner by: Molly
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction, memoirs, bio
This book was both horrifying and fascinating. Written in the first person, taken from taped accounts with the subject of the book, A Mother's Ordeal describes in terrible detail the implications of China's One-Child policy. Not a light or easy read, it tells a story that needs to be told, especially to those of us priviledged to live in the relative ease and wealth of the western world. Vivid, tragic, and heartbreaking, it demands our attention and our sympathies. ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a heartbreaking read. There were many times I had to put it down and step away for a little bit.

The stories of infanticide and forced abortions and sterilizations I am sure are still going on behind the Iron Curtain in China. It's frightening the level of human rights violations that went on and may still be going on that the world refuses to put a stop to.

It is an old book so I do not know what has happened in the last 15 or so years but it's heartbreaking anyway.
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. I knew there is a 1 child policy in place in China but never really thought about what that meant. This book tells the story of a women living in China and the struggles she faces along with other women with this policy. There were times I cryed hearing what these women went through. It made me glad I am a American and have freedom.
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ange by: Lori B
Another book whose subject speaks the truth and the truth is sometimes hard to read. Inspiring to read about the great lengths some women went to to protect their unborn children. China's one-child policy is still in effect today. I am glad I had read this book before I traveled there. ...more
Christian and Amy
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finishedreading
Amy: This is a powerful account (true story) of a woman in China who is a nurse working to enforce the one-child policy, but who has strong reservations about her work. It's an easy, quick read. Reading it during the Olympics was a great chance to learn more about modern Chinese history. ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All girls (and women)
This is a true story about a Chinese woman who starts out with a good career in nursing and soon is forced to use her skills as a nurse to abort the babies of women who get pregnant a second time......
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Steven W. Mosher is an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author, speaker. He has worked tirelessly since 1979 to fight coercive population control programs and has helped hundreds of thousands of women and families worldwide over the years.

In 1979, Steven was the first American social scientist to visit mainland China. He was invited there

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