There has been a major uproar in China after horrifying photos surfaced online of a woman lying on a hospital bed next to what was apparently the dead seven-month-old fetus she'd been forced by the local government to abort because she was in violation of the country's one-child limit. Now, as a result of the tragedy going viral, three local officials have been suspended and an apology has been made to the woman, as though that will do her any good.
Chinese media reported earlier this week that the woman, Feng Jianmei, 27, was beaten by government officials in Ankang City and forced to abort her baby because she could not afford to pay the fine (which was roughly $6,300 dollars) required for her to give birth to a second child. Chinese law does not allow abortions to take place after six months, because of the risks posed to the mother, yet the local government went ahead with forcing Feng to have one. It's likely that this crime would have gone unpunished, were it not for the gruesome photos that spread across the world. (They can be seen here, but be warned they are obviously very disturbing.)
Feng, who has obviously been quite traumatized by this experience, may not have been legally allowed to have a second child, but she should not have been forced to have an abortion so far along in her pregnancy either. An anonymous family planning official said, "The correct way to deal with the case would have been for local officials to allow her to deliver the baby first, and then mete out punishment according to regulations." As draconian as that sounds, it would have been far better than what ended up happening.
This is not the first time that very late-term forced abortions have been reported, but because of the photo this tragedy has gained an unusual amount of traction and forced officials to admit to wrongdoing. The incident has served to make family planning officials an even bigger target of hatred by people who oppose the one-child limit currently in place, and it will perhaps further efforts to remove the restrictions. But any changes that are eventually made will come too late for Feng and her husband.
Image via kentoh/Shutterstock.