Chinese officials have apologized to a woman in the northern province of Shaanxi after she was forced to abort her seven-month-old fetus and gruesome photographs of her dead baby were circulated online, official media reported on Friday.
Officials in Shaanxi's Ankang city said the family planning officials responsible for the forced abortion would be removed from their posts. Forced abortions are commonly reported by Chinese women as officials try to make strict population targets.
Jiang Nenghai, director of the family planning bureau in Ankang's Zhenping county where the forced abortion took place, Chen Pengyin, head of the county's Zengjiazhen township government, and Ren Longchun, head of the Zengjiazhen township family planning office, were suspended, the official English-language China Daily newspaper reported.
Feng Jianmei, 27, said she had been forced to have the procedure by local family planning bureau officials after she failed to pay a 40,000 yuan (U.S. $6,300) fine for an "excess birth" under China's draconian population control policies.
Speaking briefly from her hospital bed in her home county of Zhenping, Feng said Tuesday 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."
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.
The China Daily appeared to confirm the family's version of events on Friday.
"Feng, 27, was forced to terminate her pregnancy at seven months in a hospital in Zhenping on June 2," it said.
A government official called for a full probe into all family planning operation in the county, promising to deal with the case "according to law," the paper said.
Meanwhile, an investigation team from the Shaanxi provincial family planning commission had been sent to Zhenping, it said.
Feng's husband Deng Jiyuan said his wife was taken away 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.
"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 the fine, 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 earlier this week and 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]."
Reported by Luisetta Mudie.