This past week it was announced that the husband of Feng Jianmei, a Chinese woman forced to undergo an abortion in the seventh month of her pregnancy, has made known that he and his wife want the family planning officials responsible for the forced abortion to face criminal changes. They are also planning to seek government compensation for their loss, according to the Associated Press.
The couple, from Shanxi province in China, made international headlines in June following the release of shocking photos that showed a badly beaten Feng Jianmei lying on a hospital bed next to the lifeless body of her forcibly aborted baby. The pictures were posted on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. As the pictures and the story spread, so too did the public outrage. Feng Jianmei had been abducted from her home while her husband, Deng Jiyuan, was at work and forced to sign abortion consent forms. She was physically restrained and forced to undergo the procedure due to the fact that she and Deng already have one child and could not afford the $6,300 fine for having a second child under China’s one-child policy.
Chinese officials have apologized for the treatment that Feng Jianmei received at the hands of the family planning commission and several family planning officials have been suspended. Chinese authorities launched an investigation into the events. A statement released by the Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission read, “Such practice has seriously violated the relevant policies set by national and provincial family planning commissions, which harmed the image of our family planning work, and caused extremely poor effects in society.”
Other sources indicate that this event was not an isolated instance and may in fact be a fairly common occurrence. The human rights organization All Girls Allowed reports that forced abortion, often referred to as “remedial measures” in government reports, is “is endorsed explicitly as an official policy instrument in the regulations of 18 of China’s 31 provincial-level jurisdictions.” Officials are given financial incentives to meet abortion and sterilization quotas, which lead to financial coercion and physical force. This may hold back Feng Jianmei and Deng Jiyuan, who have already reported feeling pressure from the government as their story has become highly publicized, in their struggle to see justice done.
In a mighty act of support from the international community, last week the European Parliament issued a resolution strongly condemning forced abortion, specifically including the horrific situation with Feng Jiamei. The resolution states that the European Parliament “strongly condemns the decision to force Ms. Feng to have an abortion and condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations globally, especially in the context of the one‑child policy.”
It is time for China to take to heart the words of the international community and seek to protect rather than harm their own people with these vile practices. Feng Jiamei and Deng Jiyuan and millions like them deserve justice and the right to live in peace. Those who seek to put an end to this brutal practice, such as the European Parliament, should go further and consider curbing their funding of China’s vicious and unsustainable one-child policy.