Forced Abortion Father to Sue

The husband of a woman subjected to a late-term forced abortion in China will sue family planning officials.
2012-06-29
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A woman walks with her grandson past a propaganda pavilion for family planning services and the one-child policy in Qingdao, Oct. 12, 2011.
IMAGINECHINA

The husband of a woman from the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi who was forced to abort her seven-month fetus earlier this month, plans to sue local officials for damages, his lawyer said.

The family will sue for compensation instead of the subsidy already offered by local authorities, according to Beijing-based lawyer Zhang Kai, who is representing them.

"The harm [the family planning bureau] did to them would be categorized as serious harm," Zhang told RFA's Cantonese service. "They could pursue them under the category of causing injury, and they should use this [clause]."

"We just haven't decided yet exactly [how] to pursue this lawsuit," said Zhang, who confirmed that he had been hired by Deng Jiyuan, husband of Feng Jianmei.

Last week, Chinese officials apologized to Feng Jianmei, 27, after she was forced to abort her seven-month-old fetus and gruesome photographs of her dead baby were circulated online.

Officials in her home city of Ankang in Shaanxi province said the family planning officials in Zhenping county, where the abortion took place, would be punished.

Branded 'traitors'

Feng and her husband Deng Jiyuan were branded "traitors" by local officials, after they gave interviews about the forced abortion to foreign news organizations.

Deng had been incommunicado for several days, sparking fears that he had been held in secret detention.

But Deng's sister Deng Jicai said he had contacted local officials to inform them of his arrival in Beijing on Thursday.

She said local officials had responded by canceling a meeting with the family to discuss welfare payments, saying they would hold it on Deng's return.

She said banners placed outside the family home labeling them as "traitors" had now been removed, and the security personnel posted outside had now gone.

"The people who had surrounded us have all left," Deng Jicai said. "They wouldn't actually stop us from doing anything, but they would follow us wherever we went."

"There were more than a dozen of them," she said.

Abortion probe

Meanwhile, China's national-level family planning bureau in Beijing has sent 10 investigative teams to problem areas where forced abortions have been reported, official media reported this week.

A family in the southeastern province of Fujian who reported a similar experience back in April in the wake of the outcry over Feng's treatment, welcomed the news.

"They have sent out these investigative teams because the family planning bureaus are the worst for corruption," said Wu Liangjie, whose wife, Pan Chunyan, was forced into aborting her eight-month fetus in April.

"They get to set the fines; we have to pay whatever they say we have to pay," he said. "The price changes from year to year," he said.

Activists and social commentators say late-term forced abortions are common across China, as family planning officials struggle to stay within draconian birth quotas, or risk huge fines themselves.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.