Officials in the central province of Hunan are continuing to put heavy pressure on a family who spoke out about attempts by the local family planning department to force seven-months-pregnant Cao Ruyi to have an abortion, her husband said on Thursday.
Cao, 37, a resident of Hunan's provincial capital Changsha, was dragged from her home and beaten on the morning of June 6 by more than a dozen Chinese family planning officials, the U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid said.
Cao, who was then five months pregnant, was accused of violating China’s draconian "one-child" family planning policy, because she and her husband, Li Fu, already have a six-year-old daughter.
However, officials stopped short of carrying out a forced termination amid an international outcry.
Li said, however, that the local government has continued to put pressure on the family through other channels.
"They know that I was back working in my old job," said Li. "They told my boss to fire me, so now I don't have a job."
Li said he is now in the process of trying to find work.
An official who answered the phone at the family planning bureau in Changsha's Kaifu district, where the family lives, declined to comment on the case.
"I can't answer your questions," the official said. "Please could you speak to the head of the bureau."
Calls to the number provided went unanswered during office hours on Thursday.
Forced to sign
ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, who campaigned vigorously on behalf of Cao and her family, said that domestic and international attention was the main reason why Cao was allowed to return home without having her pregnancy terminated.
However, the family had been forced to sign an agreement promising they would pay an unspecified amount in fines, possibly totaling thousands of dollars, ChinaAid said at the time.
Changsha officials interviewed at the time Cao's story became public freely admitted that abortions could be carried out as late as six months in cases of unapproved pregnancies.
Under China’s one-child policy, forced abortions are common as local officials strive to meet set quotas and impose fines for “excess births.”
The campaign to save Cao's baby, which won the backing of U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, was launched after the highly-publicized case in June of a Shaanxi woman, Feng Jianmei, who was forced to terminate her pregnancy at eight months, sparking global outrage.
After a graphic photo of Feng and her dead baby posted online went viral, the government launched an investigation and had officials, who had demanded a 40,000 yuan (U.S. $6,300) fine from Feng, apologize to her.
Feng’s family prepared to sue but settled out of court last month, saying they were afraid of further persecution and wanted to return to a normal life.
Forced abortions common
Another woman, Pan Chunyan, told RFA in June that local family planning officials in Fujian province had forced her to get an abortion in her eighth month of pregnancy in April.
Despite official investigation into and apologies over Feng’s case, experts say forced abortions have been the norm for decades under China’s draconian one-child policy.
According to recent official data, 31 provinces and cities collect totally up to near 28 billion yuan (U.S. $4.4 billion) a year from enforcing the one-child policy.
Yang Zhizhu, a former associate professor at the China Youth University of Political Science whose family was once fined over 240,000 yuan (U.S. $37,000) for violating the one-child policy, said the rules governing “excess birth” are unclear and often abused by local authorities.
Reported by RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.