Following widespread condemnation and outrage, Chinese officials have apologized to the Chinese woman, Feng Jianmei, who was forced to abort a seven-month pregnancy that breached China's controversial one-child policy.
ABC News reports that three Chinese officials have been suspended and the government has apologized to Feng. According to ABC News, Deng, Feng's husband, said his wife was so distraught over the loss that she slit her wrist in attempted suicide.
According to the Zhenping City's website, Deputy Mayor Du Shouping, visited the couple at the hospital and apologized. He told them that officials responsible would be suspended pending investigation. He said: "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."
But according to AP, one expert said it was unlikely that the officials would be seriously punished. He said the problem had existed for three decades and that it was likely that officials were acting on orders to meet the central government's population quotas. AP reports that Liang Zhongtang, a demography expert at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said: "They're just pulling a trick to deal with the public. It's just a pretense. I think this case will end up being ignored and forgotten like similar cases were in the past. Things have always been like this. Nobody will be fired."
AP reports that a local official admitted that the correct way to deal with Feng's case would have been "for local officials to allow her to deliver the baby first, and then mete out punishment according to regulations."
The unprecedented move by Chinese officialdom comes after photographs were circulated online showing the woman, Feng Jianmei, lying next to the aborted baby, covered in blood, minutes after the abortion procedure took place.
The incident cause public anger and shock in China and the rest of the world, forcing public officials to issue the apology.
Daily Mail reports that Xinhua, China’s official government news agency, said that the Shaanxi Provincial Family Planning Committee was investigating the incident. Xinhua News Agency reported, "This has damaged the image of family planning work, and had an adverse effect on the society. The committee will resolutely prevent such things from happening again."
China's controversial one-child policy was implemented to control the country's population explosion, but the policy has been under severe criticism with reports of forced abortions and sterilizations, especially among the rural populace.
According to Daily Mail, Feng, 27, told local media that she was forcibly injected with a chemical to induce abortion. She said she had a stillbirth 36 hours later at a hospital in Shaanxi province. Local media speculated that Feng was injected with a chemical called Lifannuo, a powerful bactericide used in the 1980s and 1990s to enforce China's one-child policy.
Local Chinese officials say they are investigating the incident. BBC reports that Chinese law prohibits abortions after six months.
The shocking photographs circulated online widely were taken by Feng's sister, Daily Mail reports. The graphic photo shocked the Chinese nation and sparked angry reactions worldwide.
According to ABC News, Feng Jianmei and her husband Deng Ji Yuan, already have one child, a five-year-old daughter. Local birth-control authorities had ordered her to pay a fine of 4,000 pounds. Daily Mail reports she explained that she could not afford the sum because her mother-in-law needed money for cancer treatment. When she could not pay, local officials came to collect her at home and took her to the hospital for a forced abortion.
Feng said that about 20 officials from the Family Planning department came to her home in Zhenping City in China's Shaanxi Province to arrest her. According to NBC, Feng said she was dragged out of her home and tossed into a van and taken to the hospital on June 2. She said she was beaten, blindfolded and forced to sign a document that she could not read while blindfolded. Hospital staff then restrained her and gave her an injection that forced expulsion of her baby on June 4.
Feng said that her father-in-law rushed to the hospital when he heard she had been taken away but he was not allowed to enter the obstetrics ward.
According to BBC, an angry comment on the news website netease.com, said: "This is what they say the Japanese devils and Nazis did. But it's happening in reality and it is by no means the only case.They (the officials) should be executed."
BBC reports that Chail Ling of the US-based activist group All Girls Allowed, said: "Feng Jianmei's story demonstrates how the One-Child Policy continues to sanction violence against women every day." According to the BBC, All Girls Allowed said it spoke to Ms Feng and her husband Deng Jiyuan, after the incident.
At first, authorities denied Feng's story, saying she was not forced to abort. Li Yuongjou, deputy chief of Ankang's family department, said, "A lot of us tried for days to educate her. She agreed to the abortion herself." The official said that although abortion is allowed up to 28 weeks, he said: "It's not illegal to conduct 'medium term' induction of labor."
But Feng denied the official version of her story. She told NBC: "No, I didn’t agree to do it. How can I agree to do that, as a mother?"
ABC News reports the case of yet another woman Cao Ruyi, who is five months pregnant. Like Feng, she was faced with decision to abort her second child or pay an exorbitant fine. Cao Ruyi is from Changsha, capital city of Hunan province. ABC News reports she was detained after it was discovered she was pregnant. She described how Family Planning Police dragged her from her home to a hospital for abortion. She was released after she signed a contract promising to abort the child by Saturday, June 16.
But Cao Ruyi was saved the ordeal after locals alerted non-profit organizations with links in the U.S. government and international press. According to ABC News, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) sent a letter to local Changsha officials, and Texas-based group ChinaAid, published an appeal online. Chinese officials released Cao within 48 hours.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, acknowledged the case of Cao Ruyi. She said: "We've seen the reports that a Chinese woman is being detained and possibly pressured into a forced abortion by Chinese family planning authorities after purportedly violating China's one-child policy."
She told reporters during a press briefing: "We have reached out to the authorities in Beijing to ask about this issue."
According to ABC News, Nuland said U.S. strongly opposes "all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies." She said U.S. considers them serious human rights abuse.
ABC News reports the Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng and his wife documented complaints about forced abortions and sterilizations in China. Among the cases were women who said they were forced to have abortions within days of their due dates.
Digital Journal reported that Chen Guangcheng was jailed and then placed under illegal house arrest. He escaped six weeks ago and is now living in New York with his wife and two young children.