While we argue over whether to allow late-term abortions here in the U.S., a young mother in China has been forced to have an abortion at seven months. 25-year-old Feng Jianmei faced an unthinkable choice: Pay a fee, the equivalent of four years' of her husband's salary, or abort her baby. In the end she had no choice. She was abducted by 20 officials and given an injection that killed her baby girl.
The event was so traumatic, Feng's husband Deng Ji Yuan says, that she tried to slit her wrists. The Chinese government has apologized and three officials have been suspended. But that's not going to bring Feng's baby back. And it's a feeble response to such a horrible act.
Feng and her husband Deng Ji Yuan already had a young daughter. According to Chinese law, urban families can only have one child while rural families may have two children. Feng actually lived in a rural area, but she hadn't registered after moving from the city. It didn't matter to Chinese Family Planning authorities.
And it also didn't matter to them that Feng's family was actually scrambling to gather enough money to pay the fee. Family Planning didn't wait. But the fee itself is ridiculous. You know what that fee means? If you're wealthy enough you can buy you way to a second or third baby. In China, only the rich have a real choice about how many children they have.
Another family almost met the same fate as Feng and Deng. Cao Ruyi was five months pregnant when Family Planning sent her to the hospital for a forced abortion. Fortunately Feng's story had alerted world-wide attention. Pressure groups flooded Chinese authorities and Cao was released, still pregnant -- for now. But she still faces a deadline. Pay the outrageous "social burden" fee or abort her baby. It's like a sick gangster threat.
To me, Feng and Cao's stories are the flip side of the choice debate. As a mother who supports a woman's right to choose I am every bit as outraged over Feng's forced abortion as I am over American women who are forced to carry a baby to full term against their will -- and especially when doing so puts their health at risk.
You can see the horrific image of Feng with her aborted baby lying next to her. But do you really want to? I wish I hadn't. Several groups are trying to help Cao Ruyi. I don't know if any of them are legit, but the Cao Ruyi Facebook page can give you a few leads. Congressman Chris Smith (R, NJ) has reportedly called upon the Chinese government to stop these practices.
Do you think the Chinese government might change its one-child laws someday?
Image via heydrienne/Flickr