Chinese authorities suspended over forced abortion
Three Chinese officials have been suspended after a 23-year-old woman was forced to abort her seven-month pregnancy, as her family was unable to afford the $6,300 fine for having too many children under China’s “one child policy”.
Feng Jianmei, who lives in the north western province of Shaanxi, was beaten by officials and forced to sign paperwork allowing a chemical injection to be administered to her that led to her baby being stillborn.
Photos of Jianmei lying on a bed with her baby have gone viral on the internet, leading to an international outpouring of support for the young woman and her family, as well as outrage against the decision of the authorities to force her into an abortion.
The policy to prevent people from having too many children was introduced in China in the 1970s and has long been the subject of criticism. The laws currently state that only in certain situations, (such as both parents being only children or families living in rural locations) can parents have more than one child, and Jianmei already has a 5-year-old daughter.
Late-term abortions in China are supposed to be prohibited because of the risk they pose to expectant mothers.
An anonymous family planning official was quoted as saying in response to the case: “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.”
Those suspended include two top local family planning officials and the head of the township government. Jianmei and her husband are said to have been visited in hospital by the deputy mayor of Ankang city, where the family live.
A statement on the city government’s website reads: “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.”
This case comes after activist Chen Guangcheng, who recently fled illegal house arrest in China, documented multiple cases of forced abortions and sterilisations in his own city, including cases in which women have been forced to have abortions within days of their due dates.