Outrage over forced late abortion in China

 

THERE WAS anger and horror in China over the country’s brutal family planning laws after graphic images online of a woman forced to have an abortion seven months into her pregnancy, lying prone in her hospital bed with the bloodied body of her dead baby beside her.

Authorities in north China’s Shaanxi province forced Feng Jianmei to have the abortion after she did not pay a 40,000 yuan (€5,000) fine and exceeded the country’s one-child limit under the country’s population control measures. She and her husband already have a six-year-old daughter.

The provincial government said in a statement on its website that a preliminary investigation had confirmed the case was “basically true”.

Saying the reports caused “unease”, it reaffirmed its commitment to women’s rights and said investigators had recommended action be taken against the perpetrators.

“The county government detained my wife in a rented house on May 30th,” Deng Jiyuan, Feng’s husband, told the Global Times newspaper. “She almost killed herself out of panic.”

Mr Deng said five men from the local family planning bureau forcibly gave his wife an injection three days later after blindfolding her and forcing her to sign an agreement on the abortion.

The bureau said the couple had agreed to terminate the pregnancy, but Mr Deng disagreed.

“They did not notify us until several days before the injection, when they asked us to bring 40,000 yuan before the deadline they set, which we failed to do.”

The policy, which was introduced more than three decades ago, requires couples to restrict themselves to one child. There are exceptions, including for ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and rural families, who can give birth to two children if the first is a girl. In some cities, more than one child is permitted if both parents are single children.

China insists the family planning policy is necessary because the country, indeed the world, does not have the resources to deal with population growing out of control in the world’s most populous country. There are 1.3 billion in China. The government reckons that more than 400 million births have been prevented by the policy.

The policy is widely despised and there is pressure to reverse the policy as China’s population is ageing swiftly, prompting fears there may not be enough young workers to sustain economic growth at current levels for much longer.

“In 100 years, or even in 50 years, you will see how ridiculous population control is,” said a Ningbo commentator.

One remark on Weibo from Jiangsu province said the actions were “inhumane”.

“This is murder, those people should be charged,” ran one comment on the Weibo microblog service from Jiangsu province. “No matter how old, the child has a right to live. I feel terrible living in such a country, the most terrible thing is the mother watched the baby die but could do nothing.”