China's local family planning officials -- and the country's one-child policy -- are under fire after a woman took an extreme and public response to a late-term forced abortion. Caixin speaks to the heartbroken would-be mother.
BEIJING - A woman in the western town of Ankang posted a gruesome photo after she was forced to have an abortion in the seventh month of her pregnancy. After the photo spread across the Internet in China, authorities in the Shannxi province have announced that they are sending a team to investigate, and will "deal with the case seriously in accordance with the law."
On June 4, Feng Jianmei said she was forceably injected with an agent to induce an abortion, and 36 hours later her child was stillborn. One week later, as a protest, Feng posted the photo of herself along with her dead baby on the Internet. Public reaction was immediate, and intense. (The graphic image can be seen here)
Feng told a Caixin reporter that she was forced into the abortion because she can't afford the 40,000 RMB ($6,300) penalty imposed by the local family planning department.
Deng Giyuan, Feng's husband, said that his mother has been hospitalized for cancer recently, and they can't possibly afford the fine.
Feng Jianmei said that on June 2 more than 20 staff from the town's family planning department came to her home and arrested her. On the way to the hospital, as she resisted, she said she was beaten by the authorities.
During the injection, lethal to the fetus, none of her family was allowed to be present. When her father-in-law heard the news and rushed to the hospital he was prevented from entering the obstetrics ward.
Li Yuongjiou, the deputy chief of Ankang's family department, denied the accusation and told a Caixin reporter that "Feng was not forced to abort. A lot of us tried for days to educate her. She agreed to the abortion herself."
Li also pointed out that in China the abortion is allowed up to 28 weeks. It's not illegal to conduct "medium-term" induction of labor.
However, Li also admitted that in his town the family planning department's target of implementing the one-child policy – set at 95% - has not been achieved for two consecutive years, and there is consequently particular emphasis this year on enforcement of government policy.
The Caixin reporter was told by an anonymous family planning department chief in Hebei that Feng was most likely injected with Ethacridine, more commonly known as Lifannuo. It's a very powerful bactericide widely used in the late 1980s and early 1990s when China's implementation of the one-child policy was in full swing. Although the medicine has been prohibited since 1997, certain regions in China still use it.