This week is Women’s Rights Week, which is a good opportunity to become aware of the state of women’s rights around the world. Among all countries, China, with its one-child policy and forced abortion rates, is perhaps the most out of touch with women’s rights. This story highlights the strides that have yet to be made in modern-day China. At the end of the piece, we’ll tell you how you can get involved in the fight for women’s rights in China.
In an exclusive interview with ChinaAid.org, 31-year-old Li Fengfei relayed the horrifying story of her forced abortion at the hands of Chinese family planning officials. Li was newly pregnant with an unauthorized second child in her hometown of Qingmen, Qinsha county, in April when superiors at her job unlawfully framed her for embezzling money from the business.
Li was summoned by authorities and questioned unrelentingly for two days, after which she finally yielded a confession because, she said, she was so exhausted from the ordeal and ill from her morning sickness that all she wanted was to rest. Li was placed in confinement for two months.
According to Chinese law, she should have been granted the bail for which her lawyer applied on her behalf, yet she never was. She was told that her “bad attitude” during her interrogation disqualified her from having her first request for bail considered for approval, and so her lawyer had no choice but to submit a second request.
By the time Li was finally released it was June, she was halfway through her pregnancy. It was too late for her to seek a first-trimester abortion for her unlawful pregnancy (which many women resort to out of fear of losing their jobs or being forced to abort later). Due to a diagnosis of a dangerous condition called placenta previa, she was advised by medical professionals not to seek a second-trimester abortion. Li and her husband agreed that she should carry the baby to term.
However, family planning officials showed up at Li’s house and, with much physical abuse by dozens of persons, insisted that the second-trimester abortion be completed despite the risks to Li’s health. She recounted the events of the day, saying:
At about 9 a.m., a group of people knocked on our door. They said they were from the family planning office and told me to go with them. Because I was worried that the children and elderly people at home might be frightened, I suggested talking outside. As soon as we were outside, I was under their control. They wanted me to abort the child in my womb.
Thus began the unthinkable torment to which Li was subjected for the next two weeks:
After that, several dozen men and women pinched me all over my body, pinched me until my bones hurt. I was very helpless. I called my husband and told him to come to rescue me. When he arrived, the leaders of the county Family Planning Bureau and the Qingmen town government said to us: “This child is going to be aborted today. Even if you don’t want to abort it, it will be aborted. It’s easy to have another child. After this one is aborted, if you have another, no one will care. We don’t want to go do this, either, but the procuratorate won’t relent.”
Li recalls being beaten and verbally abused throughout the process, which she resisted. She was beaten and restrained when she refused to willingly have her blood drawn. The same thing happened when she refused to sign consent forms for the late-term abortion.
When medical personnel could not persuade her – through violence or verbal abuse – to sign the forms, they forged her signature. When she would not offer her fingerprints to validate the forgeries, she suffered the same treatment, until, at last, authorities had what they wanted from her. And then the torturous 13-day abortion process began.
Li was told that twelve hours after being given an injection to induce labor, she should deliver her dead child, but that was a flat-out lie. ChinaAid.org recounts:
The group once again pinned Li down to the operating table and injected her with Rivanol. “When the long needle went into my belly toward my child, I cried until I was utterly exhausted,” she said in the video. “I could not protect you, child of mine. Mama has done everything possible. But Mama could not save you,” she said. Li said that after the injection, she lost all hope and asked for the strongest pain medication available.
Li developed a dangerously high fever after the injection, and rather than delivering twelve hours later, she remained in the feverish state for days on end. Despite her placenta previa diagnosis, medical personnel repeated the injection three times, hoping for a different result each time. Li developed liver and kidney damage due to the high drug amounts in her system, but family planning officials insisted that documentation of this damage be amended to not reflect the side-effects caused by the drugs. Consequently, Li – still in the hospital – was subjected to a regimen of antibiotic treatments and then coerced into ingesting the RU-486 abortion drug:
At this point, I was very weak and on the verge of death.
On July 21, Li delivered her stillborn son. He had already begun to decay. She said:
The doctor asked me if I wanted to see him, but I dared not look. This child that I tried to protect with my life, this is how he leaves me. He was so reluctant to go!
Li concluded her account, saying:
I call on the righteous and kind-hearted people of the outside world to show concern to my sufferings. I call on our superiors to undo the injustice on me. I also hope the people in the political and legal departments can investigate the violators of the law who did this to me.
To get involved in the fight to end forced abortion and discrimination against women’s rights in China, visit All Girls Allowed.