Empty birth control packets represent a tension between the forced usage of contraceptives, sterilizations, and the millions of abandoned female infants in China. In 1995 in China there were a reported 20,740,000 live births and 7,476,482 reported abortions. Also 1995 in addition to the live births and abortions, subsequently there were 2,130 adoptions. Despite the pill’s introduction as a method for choice and empowering women, the pill within my work symbolizes the loss of females, both aborted and adopted. This work seeks to explore the effects of the mass distribution of hormone based contraceptives as a harmful weapon that ultimately prevented the birth of daughters, while supporting pharmaceutical industries. Prevention methods were encouraged and enforced “via a system of incentives for compliance, such as preferential policies in educational opportunities, health care, housing and job assignments.” In 2010, five years prior to the end of the one-child policy, “officials claimed that over 400 million births have been averted since the program's inception.”
Originally the theme of forced contraceptive was to be addressed in a hand-stitched flag made from empty birth control packets donated from friends and acquaintances. But I realized subsequently that donated pill packets did not align conceptually with China’s program of forced contraceptives and sterilizations because the majority of the packets were given to me by women actively choosing to be on birth control.
Ultimately, I cast and reproduced multiple plaster replicas of birth control packets associated with the number “10 Million,” which refers to the average number of abortions per year in China. This work is in direct conversation with my installation 365 Days to Prevent a Daughter created from collected expired birth control pills. It expresses my feelings of frustration, and sorrow for the losses suffered by all of the millions of Chinese adoptees. All of the works in Transplanted seek to make visible the vast number of women affected by the policy.