Chinese officials say they are investigating claims that a woman was forced to abort her seven-month-old fetus, after images of the corpse were posted online.
According to activists Feng Jianmei, 22, was pushed to have an abortion by authorities in the northern Shaanxi province because she couldn't afford the fine for violating the country's one child policy.
According to Global Times, Feng was detained, taken to the hospital and given an injection to kill the unborn baby on June 2. She and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, already have a daughter, born in 2007, and did not have the $6,300 needed to purchase a birth permit for the second child.
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After photos of Feng lying on a hospital bed next to the baby's body were posted online.
Deng told CNN: "They forced her to abort our seven-month-old child -- do they deserve to be called Communist Party officials who served the people?"
Authorities in Zhenping county, where the abortion took place, said that Feng had agreed to the procedure, News 24 says. However, according to a relative of Feng, she and her husband had opposed the abortion.
A preliminary investigation by the Shaanxi Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission confirmed the abortion had taken place and issued a statement urging local authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
The National Population and Family Planning Commission said it viewed the matter as "serious and important" and that an investigation was being handled at the "top level", another AFP article stated.
The incident has sparked outrage among human rights activists both within China and overseas, says the BBC.
The one child policy has been implemented in China since the 1970s in an effort to control a population that has grown to 1.3 billion people. Under the policy, urban families can have only one child, and rural families can have two children if the first is a girl.
"Feng Jianmei's story demonstrates how the one child policy continues to sanction violence against women every day," Chai Ling of the US-based activist group All Girls Allowed is quoted as saying.