2nd State Passes Bill to Confront Forced Organ Harvesting in China

2nd State Passes Bill to Confront Forced Organ Harvesting in China
Falun Gong practitioners march in Manhattan on May 12, 2023. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Utah’s state legislature has unanimously passed legislation aimed at tackling the bloody practice of forced organ harvesting in communist China, the second U.S. state to do so as the horrors of the abuse gain growing recognition.

S.B. 262, a bill that prohibits health insurers from covering a human organ transplant from or post-transplant care performed in China due to the risk of the regime’s state-sponsored abuse, passed the Utah House chamber by a vote of 70–0 on March 1 and was signed by the Senate president on the same day. With the Utah Senate having approved the bill days earlier, the bill is now heading to the governor’s desk.

“This is a very real hellish nightmare for people, and it’s something that we should be aware of and not be a part of the supply chain for,” state Rep. Candice Pierucci, the floor sponsor of the bill, said shortly before the March 1 vote.

Utah as a state is “trying to be proactive and be a leader in this space,” she said, because it’s “coming to the shores of our country.” She noted that Israel, which has “a sensitivity to this” due to the Holocaust memories, was “quick to adopt” laws countering the abuse.

The fact that “this terrible practice” is happening outside of the United States means Utah can’t ban it outright, Ms. Pierucci said.

“But we can go after the money, and we can go after the dollars that are within our own state,” she told her fellow colleagues.

State Rep. Norman Thurston, who questioned Ms. Pierucci about the bill’s enforcement logistics, remarked “I wish we could go further.”

“Sometimes it’s a trope that we think of, the person in the movies waking up in a motel room missing a kidney. But in these countries, it’s not a trope, it’s a real thing,” he said. “In fact, you don’t wake up missing a kidney, you wake up dead, missing two kidneys.

“So the more that we can do to come after this through the financial mechanisms to make sure that we are not using our taxpayer money, or employer money, or any of our insurance money to help support this thing is better for all of us.”

An independent people’s tribunal in London in 2019 concluded that the Chinese regime has been killing prisoners of conscience—such as the adherents of the persecuted faith Falun Gong—on a “significant scale.”

Adopting the bill would make Utah the second state to enforce such measures following the footsteps of Texas, which in June 2023 signed an anti-forced organ harvesting bill into law.

Another similar bill has been advancing in Arizona, which on Feb. 29 passed the House and is now awaiting a Senate vote. Idaho and Missouri also introduced such measures in their state in February.

At a Feb. 21 Utah Senate committee hearing, Utah resident Sun Changzhen testified that she was one of around 20 Falun Gong practitioners targeted for blood tests while imprisoned in a Chinese labor camp for her belief.

Sun Changzhen
Falun Gong practitioner Sun Changzhen meditates in 2018. (Courtesy of Sun Changzhen)

The detainees, all women, were taken in an unmarked van in July 2001 for a half-day of physical exams, blood tests, and other medical screening. None of the other regular prisoners went through such testing, according to Ms. Sun.

“In China,” she wrote in a statement that was read in the hearing, “the fate of Falun Dafa practitioners is jail, brutal torture, and even loss of life. The physical and mental damage that I suffered during my illegal imprisonment is beyond language.”

Han Yu, a Falun Gong adherent in New York, said at the hearing that she believes her father was a victim of the regime’s forced organ harvesting.

Ms. Han’s father, Han Junqing, died in a Chinese detention facility in 2004, two months after his arrest for practicing Falun Gong.

The police at the time attributed his death to a heart attack, but Ms. Han “thought it must be a mistake, because he was healthy before his arrest.”

His dead body was “terribly thin and bruised all over,” she said.

“But what shocked me the most were the thick, black stitches from his throat all the way down to his abdomen. We could feel a hard block of ice beneath his skin,” she said.

The police claimed the incision was the result of an autopsy, but Ms. Han said her family “never authorized an autopsy.”

When Ms. Han learned about forced organ harvesting three years later, she began to suspect her father had been killed for his organs.

“That’s why China has such short wait times for organ transplants,” she said.

From The Epoch Times

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