Several officials in Feng’s township were fired or admonished, and the local government paid her family the equivalent of more than US$11,400. Yet even in this rare victory, no one was criminally prosecuted and the payout was called assistance, not compensation.
Beijing-based artist Wang Peng collected what he said were four late-term fetuses clandestinely recovered from forced abortions in Beijing in 2013 and used them for a graphic art installation in the capital. The exhibit is closed to the public and Wang keeps its location secret; he said about 100 people have viewed his work by private invitation.
“It has violated a woman’s birthright, bestowed to her by the nature,” Wang said of the policy-driven abortions. “And it does not respect life.”
Any reliable tally of such cases is impossible. Victims can be silenced by local authorities with threats or money, and may be unaware that such conduct is forbidden.
“They won’t say anything unless they cannot endure the pains anymore and must seek assistance,” said Yang Zhizhu, a Beijing professor and advocate for birthing rights.
Gong’s husband, Wu Yongyuan, said he did not worry too much when he first learned she was pregnant for a second time. Some families in his village have two or even three children. But when local family planning officials caught wind of her pregnancy, she was taken away.
Wu said his wife was different after the abortion. She easily burst into tears, picked fights with him, punched at him and their son and refused contact with others. In May 2013, about 18 months after the abortion, a doctor diagnosed her with schizophrenia, he said.
Believing the abortion triggered his wife’s mental disorder, Wu sought compensation from local authorities to pay for his wife’s treatment. But family planning officials in their home city of Lianyuan produced a medical report that said her physiological traits could be responsible for her illness rather than the abortion.
Last month, Wu brought his wife to Beijing to petition higher officials.
“We demand those involved in the case be punished, and we want an open apology and justice,” he wrote in a copy of the petition. “And we demand compensation for the losses inflicted upon us physically and mentally.”
On Monday afternoon, Wu and Gong — clad in a padded pink pajama set — were chased out of a tiny rental room by their landlord into Beijing’s wintry coldness after a reporter showed up. Soon, policemen arrived and took the couple away in a van.
A few hours later, Wu sent a text to a reporter. “We probably will be sent home,” he wrote, “The party chief of our township called us, asking us to go home for negotiations.”