Forced Abortion in China Prompts Apology and Three Officials Suspended
(ZHENPING CITY, China) -- Three Chinese officials have been suspended and the government has apologized to a young mother who was forced to abort her child seven months into the pregnancy due to China's one-child limit law.
Graphic images of the mother and the lifeless body of the baby sparked a public uproar after they were posted online by a Chinese activist group.
Feng Jianmei and her husband, Deng Ji Yuan, already have one child. Deng said that because of this, his wife's pregnancy was found to be in violation of China's one-child policy by the Family Planning authorities in their hometown of Zhenping City, located in China's Shanxi Province.
News of Feng's forced abortion on June 2 spread through the activist community within China and internationally. Xinhua News Agency ran a short account of her story, stories ran in newspapers and on website throughout the world.
Deng told ABC News that Feng, who is 25, was so distraught over the loss of her baby she slit her wrists in an attempted suicide.
Friday the city's government web site said Deputy Mayor Du Shouping visited the couple and apologized. He also told them that officials would be suspended pending an investigation.
"Today, I am here on behalf of the municipal government to see you and express our sincere apology to you. I hope to get your understanding," the deputy mayor said according to the city's website.
The official Xinhua News Agency said three officials would be relieved of their duties.
Meanwhile, another Chinese woman is faced with a decision whether to abort her second child or pay an exorbitant fine.
In Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province, Cao Ruyi, who says she is five months pregnant, is safe from a forced abortion, if only for the time being. Her relief follows an anxious few days.
When it was discovered Cao was pregnant, she was detained by authorities. In an interview with ABC News, Cao described how Family Planning Police dragged her from her home to a hospital for an abortion. She says she was released only after signing a contract promising to abort her child by Saturday, June 16.
Cao's story took a different route than Feng's. The news got out earlier through a network of concerned locals savvy enough to alert non-profit organizations dedicated to stopping forced abortions with ties in the U.S. government and international press.
Also on Monday, in Washington D.C., State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland acknowledged the case of Cao Ruyi.
"We've seen the reports that a Chinese woman is being detained and possibly pressured into a forced abortion by Chinese family planning authorities after purportedly violating China's one-child policy," she told reporters during a press briefing. "We have reached out to the authorities in Beijing to ask about this issue."
Nuland reiterated that the U.S. strongly opposes "all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies," which they have deemed a serious human rights abuse.
Groups from around the world became involved, including organization such as All Girls Allowed and Women's Rights in China.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., sent a letter to local Changsha officials. The Texas-based group ChinaAid published his appeal online.
Cao was released within 48 hours after the letter was sent.
Chai Ling, the founder of the Christian activist organization All Girls Allowed and former student leader in Tiananmen Square, tells ABC News that according to Cao and her husband if they have the baby they will be forced to pay a "social burden fee" of nearly $24,000. This fee, an astronomical sum for the average Chinese citizen, is "required" for the child to be granted basic citizen rights such as access to health care and education.
Cao doubts she will ever be able to come up with that kind of money.
Cao told ABC News she very much wanted to keep her baby, but she was unsure of what do to. For Cao, waiting for the Saturday deadline is torture, but every moment is also precious for the expectant mother.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio