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China investigates alleged forced abortion at 7th month of pregnancy

China authorities launched an investigation [Xinhua report] on Friday into whether local family planning officials forced Feng Jianmei to have an abortion in her seventh month of pregnancy. Feng and her family allege that earlier this month she was taken to a hospital and her child was forcibly aborted because she did not have money to pay the fine for having a second child as required by federal family planning law. The federal government claims that, while Feng did not have a legal right to have a second child, local authorities were wrong to force an abortion so late in her pregnancy and are investigating to apply appropriate penalities. Federal authorities stated that local officials should have allowed her to have the baby and then applied sanctions according to law. China's statement is a reaction to widespread anger and outrage throughout the country after pictures of Feng with her aborted child were posted on blogs earlier this month. Du Shouping, the vice mayor of Ankang, the city Feng lives in, visited her and her family [press release, in Chinese] in the hospital on Thursday to apologize. A similar statement noted that three public officials have already been suspended [press release, in Chinese].

China has recently also been criticized for treating Chen Guangcheng inhumanely, a blind activist who was arrested for exposing forced abortions and other human rights violations. Last month, Chen called on the US to promote a rule of law [JURIST report] in China and use international law to make China respect basic human rights of its citizens. Chen arrived in the US last month after escaping house arrest [JURIST reports] the month before. Chen's situation caused a high-tension standoff between the US and China, and Chen is now in the US about to begin a fellowship to study law at New York University [advocacy website].

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