SHANGHAI - Three family planning officials in northwest China were suspended this week following a public outcry over reports that they had forced a young woman to undergo an abortion seven months into her pregnancy, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.
The suspensions, ordered Thursday, came just days after graphic photographic images were posted on the Internet, showing a 23-year-old woman named Feng Jianmei lying on a hospital bed with the remains of her dead baby girl, soaked in blood. The story received widespread attention online and a few days ago was the most popular topic on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
The woman’s husband, who had posted the images, told the Chinese media that on June 2, family planning officials in Shaanxi province forced his wife to abort her second child after the couple were told that they had violated the nation’s one-child policy.
The couple had been ordered to pay a $6,300 fine if they wanted to go ahead with the pregnancy, he told the media. When they failed to pay, Feng was beaten and given an injection that induced a late-term abortion, the couple said.
Families who disobey the one-child policy are often treated harshly by Chinese authorities. But the government’s response to the public outcry - punishing local authorities - is unusual.
The family planning officials were also forced to apologize to the woman, Xinhua said.
The Shaanxi Population and Planning Commission told Xinhua that the local officials had committed a “serious violation’’ of regulations and suggested that family planning officials in other parts of the country draw “profound lessons’’ from the case.
The case comes just weeks after Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who battled family planning officials in another province, escaped brutal house detention and fled to the US Embassy in Beijing. With the aid of US officials, he has since been allowed to travel to New York to study. Chen had campaigned to expose forced sterilizations and abortions.
Local media reports quoted the authorities in Zhenping County, in Shaanxi Province, as saying that the woman had given her consent to an abortion. The husband denied that, saying, “Our baby was 7 months old. Do you think we would agree to an abortion?’’
Xinhua said such late-term abortions were prohibited under Chinese law.