Graphic photos from Shaanxi province of grieving mother Feng Jianmei and her almost full-term aborted fetus went viral last week and reignited a discussion on abortion among Chinese netizens. Some commenters called the incident, “Auschwitz in the womb,” and three Shaanxi local officials were suspended Friday. For the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Demick examines the ramifications of China’s one-child policy:
Forced abortions and sterilizations are the bane of villagers in this gentle farmland along the easternmost stretch of the Yellow River, about 200 miles southeast of Beijing. Across the country, overzealous enforcement of family planning rules, along with land confiscations, is one of the biggest sources of anger toward the Chinese Communist Party.
[…] Enforcement of China’s one-child policy has become less violent since the 1980s and 1990s, when accusations of beatings, kidnappings and killings committed by family planning officials were common.
But progress is uneven. The medical conditions at the abortion sites are dire. The rules are vague and inconsistently implemented. Remnick interviewed a family with a mother who died of a forced abortion in Lijin, Shandong. In a different town in the same province, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng filed a class-action lawsuit in 2005 against forced abortions and sterilizations. Yet the government kept Chen in various forms of confinement for years and the official who implemented the one-child family quotas, Li Qun, received a promotion. From the LA Times article:
In the recent Shaanxi province case, the parents thought they were entitled to a second child because they lived in the countryside and their first was a girl. But they were informed late in the pregnancy that the wife’s application would not be accepted because she was registered to live in an urban area. Family planning officials requested $6,500 to approve the pregnancy.
There have been attempts from China’s civil society to associate forced abortions with the legal definition of rape.