At least three family planning officials have been suspended pending an investigation in the matter.
There was widespread outrage after images posted online of Chinese mother, 23-year-old Feng Jianmei, lying on a hospital bed with the corpse of her unborn daughter on a plastic sheet beside her, went viral.
It emerged Feng, from Ankang, in the Shaai province, was held down while a lethal injection was given to her foetus, after she failed to fill in an application form to have a second child.
The photo was taken by her cousin a week after the abortion.
The government of Ankang city, where Feng lives in northwest China’s Shaanxi province, said a deputy mayor visited Feng and her husband in the hospital, apologised to them and said officials would be suspended amid an investigation.
“Today, I am here on behalf of the municipal government to see you and express our sincere apology to you. I hope to get your understanding,” Deputy Mayor Du Shouping said, according to a statement on the city government’s website.
The Chinese government was force to admit an illegal infanticide.
Feng and her 29-year-old husband Deng Jiayuan already have a six-year-old girl.
Being farmers, the couple are not bound by China’s national one-child per family policy. However, it is understood they failed to fill an application form to confirm they live in the countryside, which would have exempt them from the ruling.
It is unclear why this happened.
Feng complained on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, that she was not warned of the consequences until it was too late. But as her pregnancy progressed, local officials offered her family a deal: pay 40,000 yuan ($6250) to smooth the bureaucracy over.
When the couple said they did not have the money, Feng was taken from her home on May 30 by more than 20 officials and ransomed, her husband said.
The officials held her for three days, apparently sending threatening text messages to members of her family, before giving the foetus a lethal injection on June 2.
Chai Ling, the founder of All Girls Allowed, an advocacy group focused on protecting women’s rights in China, she Feng told her she could ‘feel the baby jumping around inside me all the time, but then she went still’.
Ling said: “She was dragged by five strong men, they held her down, put a pillow case over her head and put her finger with ink and pressed on the form.
“Then they injected the needles with poison into her tummy, into the baby’s head. And the baby, who was jumping around [and] kicking around before in her tummy, all of a sudden stopped moving. And two days later in extreme pain she passed out this dead baby.”
She described the mother as in a “very bad mental state”.
“We need to stop this kind of terrible campaign against women and children in China and immediately,” she said. “We were told this is not just a single case, it’s the beginning of a campaign by local authorities in an effort to try and improve their one-child policy record.”
Angry Chinese internet users compared the case to the atrocities inflicted by Japanese soldiers on Chinese victims during the war. By yesterday, more than a million comments had been left on Weibo about the case.