In a rare move, China has apologized to a woman who was forced to undergo an abortion at seven months of pregnancy and has suspended three family planning officials after gruesome photos of the mother and her dead unborn baby went viral on the Internet.
Chinese and American human rights groups exposed how the woman, Feng Jianmei, was beaten and dragged into a vehicle by a group of family planning officials while her husband, Deng Jiyuan, was out working. The officials asked for RMB 40,000 in fines from Feng Jianmei’s family and, when they did not receive the money, they forcibly aborted Feng at seven months, laying the body of her aborted baby next to her in the bed (pictured right).
The abortion has triggered a chain of angry protests from around the world and the human rights group ChinaAid indicated the family will be represented by an attorney who will press their case.
AP provides more details on the apology and the suspensions of the population control officials.
The government of Ankang city, where Feng lives in northwest China’s Shaanxi province, said a deputy mayor visited Feng and her husband in the hospital, apologized to them and said officials would be suspended amid an investigation.
“Today, I am here on behalf of the municipal government to see you and express our sincere apology to you. I hope to get your understanding,” Deputy Mayor Du Shouping said, according to a statement on the city government’s website Friday.
The official Xinhua News Agency says three officials would be relieved of their duties: two top local family planning officials and the head of the township government.
Xinhua said Feng was not legally entitled to a second child under China’s one-child limit, but added that late-term abortions are prohibited due to the risk of causing physical injury to the mother.
“The correct way to deal with the case would have been for local officials to allow her to deliver the baby first, and then mete out punishment according to regulations,” the agency quoted an anonymous provincial family planning official as saying.
Meanwhile, Feng’s husband wrote on the twitter-like web site Weibo about what happened, according to the Wall St. Journal.
Feng’s husband, Deng Liyuan, said his wife was forced to have the abortion after the family failed to raise the cash to pay a 40,000 yuan fine for having a second child.
Family members said local officials surrounded the house where Ms. Feng was staying and prevented anyone from leaving. Ms. Feng tried to escape but was caught and taken to the hospital.
“While I was rushing to the hospital, they forced my wife to sign a document with her fingerprint, violently held her down and injected her with poison to cause the abortion,” Mr. Deng wrote on Sina Weibo.
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ChinaAid has also been monitoring he case of Cao Ruyi, the five-month pregnant mother in Changsha, Hunan province, who faced the threat of a forced abortion. The group has been active in drawing Chinese and international attention to the case, leading to some recent positive developments.
Fu called the Shaanxi case of the killing of Feng Jianmei’s seven-month-old unborn child a shocking incident, adding, “We are convinced that the tragedy of this kind of human extermination happens daily in many different places. We are dedicated to the building of a Chinese society that respects life, love and justice.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, who initially exposed the brutal forced abortion, said, “This is an outrage. No legitimate government would commit or tolerate such an act.”
“Those who are responsible should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity,” Littlejohn said. “WRWF calls on the United States government and the leaders of the free world to strongly condemn forced abortion and all coercive family planning in China.”
As LifeNews reported last week, the human rights group ChinaAid, which worked closely with Chen to help him leave China, learned that a 37-year-old woman, Cao Ruyi (pictured left), was dragged from her home and beaten on the morning of June 6 by more than a dozen Chinese family planning officials. The mother, pregnant with a five month old unborn child, was accused of violating China’s “one child” policy because she and her husband, Li Fu, already have a six-year-old daughter.
Cao Ruyi was allowed to return home on Sunday and added that the surveillance personnel from the local family planning office had also been called off. Fu said he “expressed their thanks to ChinaAid for exposing the violent manner in which the local family planning officials dragged his wife to the hospital and the threat of performing a forced abortion on her.”
“He said the domestic and international attention and concern that Fu’s publicity efforts elicited was the reason Ms. Cao was allowed to return home,” Fu added.
However, before her release from the hospital, Cao was forced to sign a guarantee that she will pay a 10,000 yuan (nearly US $1500) “pregnancy termination deposit fee,” which will not be returned if she insists on keeping her baby. Instead the deposit will serve as partial payment of her fine for giving birth to a baby without government permission. She will also be required to pay a “social burden compensation fee” of US $25,000.
“Nonetheless, this is a welcome change,” Fu said. “ChinaAid expresses its thanks for the timely prayers of many brothers and sisters and for the concern expressed by many in the international community, most notably U.S. congressman Chris Smith who contacted the Hunan provincial and Changsha municipal governments directly.”
“Some Chinese netizens have also traveled to Changsha to lodge a formal protest with the procuratorate about Ms. Cao’s illegal detention by local officials. Many house church Christians prayed for Ms. Cao’s unborn child and called the couple
The dustup comes just a few weeks after Chen Guangcheng, China’s highest-profile opponent of forced abortions carried under the country’s one-child policy, made global headlines with his daring escape from home confinement and six-day stay in the U.S. Embassy.