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Family of victim of forced abortion reportedly reaches settlement with Chinese government

by | Jul 11, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Feng Jianmei, lying in bed after her forced abortion at seven months

The family of a Chinese woman forcible aborted in the seventh month has reached an out-of-court settlement with the government , according to the official state-run newspaper and the Associated Press.

Feng Jianmei and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, who have one child, were unable to pay the $6,300 fine when she became pregnant with a second child.

In late May Mrs. Feng was snatched off the street, held by local officials in northwestern Shaanxi Province for three days, blindfolded, and coerced her to consent to the abortion. ”Even with the supposed consent, it took five men to hold her down and administer the drug that induced the 48-hour labor,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). “The injection was given directly to the child’s head.”

Mr. Deng told the AP on Wednesday that the family had accepted a settlement for $11,200 “because they wanted to return to a normal life.”

“It has never been about the money,” Mr. Feng told AP. “As ordinary people, we can no longer take the pressure from all sides of the society.”

Mr. Feng was likely alluding to a series of attempts to intimidate the family. Relatives told reporters that “dozens of people harassed Ms Feng as she was recovering in hospital, hanging banners outside describing her as a traitor, in what was widely seen as an effort to stop her publicising the case,” according to an Australian newspaper.

The brutal nature of a late-term abortion is not uncommon. What set Mrs. Feng’s ordeal apart from all the other abortions that take place routinely in China is that Mr. Feng took pictures of his wife lying next to the body of their dead baby. He then distributed the imagines using Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Whether sincere or not, the Chinese government has responded to the worldwide outcry. Two local officials were fired, five others received minor punishments, and the government issued an apology.

The official news agency, Xinhua, has its own spin on the settlement and what transpired in early June.

“Feng, 23, was forced to abort her baby seven months into her pregnancy at a local hospital on June 2 as the family refused to pay 40,000 yuan [$6,300] demanded by local family planning officials as a guarantee for clearing the legal ground for her to have a second child.

“Like most urban residents in China, Feng is not legally entitled to have     more than one child.

“But the extremely crude means of law enforcement sparked a public uproar and a government probe later found that the guarantee claim was illegal and officials had violated a ban stipulated in national and provincial family planning rules on late pregnancy abortion.”

Worth noting is a perhaps related story from the BBC. China already vigorously attempts to censor the Internet.

According to the BBC The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) is demanding that “Chinese video websites must pre-screen and censor all original online content–or face the consequences.”

“Nothing with vulgar or violent materials will pass,” said a SARFT spokeswoman. “If it is anti-party and anti-society, it definitely will not pass. No website will allow such content.”

Will that limit Sina Weibo and make it more difficult for the truth of cases like Feng Jianmei to go public?

Deng told the AP their family still wishes for another child.

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Categories: China