China has issued a public apology to a woman forced to have an abortion in the seventh month of her pregnancy when she couldn't pay the $6,300 fine for a second child.
Chinese authorities vowed to punish any officials involved, while suspending at least three family planning officials in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, Reuters reported.
Grisly photos of Feng Jianmei, 27, lying in a bed with her aborted fetus beside her circulated on Chinese social media sites, sparking outrage and reigniting debate over China's one-child policy.
According to USA Today, Feng told local media that she was beaten by local officials and dragged to a hospital, her head covered, where she was forcibly injected with a chemical to induce an abortion.
Her child was stillborn 36 hours later.
Photos purporting to be of Feng and the aborted fetus sparked online debate over China's Draconian family planning policy.
Under China's one-child limit, designed to control the country's population, local authorities are set birth quotas by Beijing, and this — according to the Associated Press — has led to forced abortions and sterilizations.
On the Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, comments on Feng's abortion neared 1 million by Thursday, many of them calling for a relaxation in the policy.
Our country is the inventor of family planning committees, how couldn't we have accumulated enough experience after so many years? Must they kill people? Cold-blooded scum!" television director Liu Kang reportedly said posted.
The AP reported that a deputy mayor of Ankang city, where Feng lives, visited Feng and her husband in the hospital to say: "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."
State-run news outlet Xinhua, meantime, reported that while Feng was not legally entitled to a second child, late-term abortions were prohibited.
However, Xinhua also cited family planning officials as saying that Feng had given her consent to the abortion, as she already had a 5-year-old daughter and understood she was in breach of rules that limit most urban couples to one child.
It also questioned the authenticity of the photographs circulated online.
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