Updated at 10:30 a.m. EST on 2012-06-15
Authorities in the central Chinese province of Shaanxi have forced a woman to abort the child she was carrying at seven months after she failed to pay a large fine for exceeding local birth quotas under the "one-child" policy, she and her relatives said Tuesday.
Speaking from a local hospital in her home county of Zhenping, Feng Jianmei said she had been forced to have the procedure by local family planning bureau officials after she failed to pay a 40,000 yuan fine for an "excess birth" under China's draconian population control policies.
Feng, speaking briefly from her hospital bed, said that she hadn't consented to the procedure.
"I have just given an interview with a reporter. My head really hurts...No, it wasn't [with my consent.] It was forced. That's what happened."
Feng's husband Deng Jiyuan said his wife was taken away on June 2 by officials from the local family planning bureau and given an injection at the Zhenping county hospital without her consent. Two days later, she lost the baby.
A photograph taken at the time and later posted on the Tianwang rights website's discussion forum showed Feng lying in a hospital bed with her dead baby beside her.
"They gave her the injection on June 2, and the child was stillborn at 3:00 a.m. on the morning of June 4," Deng said. "They gave the injection directly into the child's head."
"She didn't agree to this...They grabbed her hand and forced her to sign," he said.
Deng said he and Feng had agreed to pay a fine of 40,000 yuan levied by officials as a fine for the unapproved birth, but that they had forced her abortion anyway.
He said the child would have been the couple's second.
An employee who answered the phone at the hospital where Feng was staying confirmed she was there.
"I heard them talking about this woman this morning," the employee said. "Family planning is a basic national policy, which we implement, and provide services for afterwards. We have here such a thing as a special birth permit."
The employee denied that forced abortion was a regular part of China's one-child population controls. "There is no coercion," the employee said. "There is ideological work, but we can't force [people]."
"I don't know the details, but I don't think that we would do such a thing. She is probably just exaggerating things on the Internet. I am guessing that there is no truth in it."
Asked if she saw a number of terminations, the worker replied, "No, because we are person-centered and we have to become more humane... Only the leaders can answer your questions."
Meanwhile, Cao Ruyi, a resident of Hunan's provincial capital Changsha, said she had also been forced to abort her child after she received a notice to terminate her pregnancy and a demand for 10,000 yuan in fine money after she got pregnant without official approval.
Changsha officials freely admitted that abortions could be carried out as late as six months in cases of unapproved pregnancies.
"She should have gotten the permit first and had the baby afterwards," said an official who answered the phone at the Hongshan neighborhood committee in Cao's home district of Kaifu. Asked if she wouldn't be allowed to have a baby if the permit wasn't issued, the official said, "Those are the rules."
"As for forcing, there's no use in her saying she doesn't want it. We try to talk her round, work with her, I guess."
"Her pregnancy is an illegal one. If she really doesn't want [to abort] we will have to pursue it through legal channels."
Asked if there had been a relaxation in family planning controls in recent years, the official replied, "Who says there's been a relaxation?"
Asked about the abortion of a seven-month-old fetus, the official said: "If she agrees, then we would definitely go through with it."
An employee who answered the phone at the Women and Children's Baojian Hospital in Changsha confirmed that the hospital carried out abortions on behalf of family planning officials.
"Here, we need to see a permit from the family planning bureau," the employee said. "If the family planning department wants us to terminate it, we'll terminate it."
The official said the limit for terminations was six months, adding, "But we'll proceed according to circumstances."
Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.