A woman named Feng Jianmei found herself with child seven months ago. Unfortunately, she and her husband are poor farmers in China, and they already have a six-year-old daughter.
This brought Feng into conflict with the notorious Family Planning Bureau. According to The Age of Australia, officials approached Feng when she was three months pregnant, and asked her to fill out some paperwork that would allow her to have a second child. Under communism, farming is very labor-intensive, so the Chinese government allows certain exemptions to its one-child policy for farm families. Feng did not fill out the papers, and later complained that she didn’t understand their significance, because the officials did not clearly explain the situation to her.
Later in the pregnancy, the Family Planning gang returned, this time demanding an administrative bribe of over $6000 in U.S. dollars. The Feng family didn’t have that kind of money. Horror ensued.
A pack of at least twenty family planning staffers descended on the family home. Mrs. Feng was forcibly dragged to a hospital, beaten when she resisted, restrained – including a pillowcase over her head, according to Christian activist group All Girls Allowed – and pumped full of drugs to induce an abortion. The baby was stillborn, seven months into the pregnancy.
This sort of thing happens under China’s barbaric forced abortion policy, but the Feng case has the feel of a straw threatening to break the back of a particularly gruesome camel, both within China and around the world. One reason is that photographs of Mrs. Feng lying in the hospital, next to the bloody remains of her stillborn child, began flying across the Internet. It’s not clear who took these photographs, since Feng’s family was barred from entering the obstetrics ward, but several human-rights groups have pronounced them genuine.
A sample comment from a writer in China, quoted at the UK Daily Mail, captures the outrage: “This is what they say the Japanese devils and Nazis did. But its’ happening in reality, and it is by no means the only case. They should be executed.”
“They” refers to the officials responsible, who tried the usual totalitarian gambit of claiming that Feng asked for the abortion. That didn’t last long, as AFP reported on Thursday that “the Shaanxi provincial government said in a statement that a preliminary probe had confirmed the case was ‘basically true,’ and the investigators have recommended action be taken against the perpetrators.”
The local government declared on its website, with a dash of classic bureaucratic understatement: “This is a serious violation of the National Population and Family Planning Commission’s policies, jeopardizes the population control work, and has caused uneasiness in society.”
Those National Population and Family Planning Commission policies allow abortion up to 28 weeks. Oh, and rural families can only get a waiver to have a second child if the first one was a girl. That all sounds vaguely familiar.