Graphic images posted online showing the bloody corpse of a baby whose mother was allegedly forced to terminate her pregnancy at seven months have caused an uproar in China.
Rights groups say authorities in north China's Shaanxi province forced Feng Jianmei to abort her pregnancy on June 2 because she was unable to pay a 40,000 yuan ($6,270) fine for exceeding China's "one-child" population control policy.
Authorities in Zhenping county, where the abortion took place, said that Feng had agreed to the procedure, but a relative told AFP that she and her husband had opposed the abortion.
The relative, who asked not to be named, also confirmed the authenticity of a photograph posted online of Feng on a hospital bed next to the blood-smeared body of her baby.
Outraged Chinese web users expressed doubt that Feng had agreed to the abortion, and even state-run media outlets condemned the procedure.
"Who would ever drop a bleeding baby beside its mother?" posted one Chinese web user on Internet news portal Netease.com.
"This is what they say the Japanese devils and Nazis did. But it's happening in reality and it is by no means the only case... They (the officials) should be executed."
Another web user, posting on popular forum clubkdnet.net, said China's family planning system had been "openly killing people for years in the name of national policy" adding:
"What is wrong with society?"
China has implemented its draconian family planning policy since the late 1970s in an effort to control a population that has grown to 1.3 billion people, the world's largest.
Under the policy, urban families are generally allowed to have one child, while rural families can give birth to 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," said Chai Ling, head of the US-based rights group All Girls Allowed.
China's official media also condemned the case, but said the controversial family planning policy should remain in place.
A commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper said in English that late-term forced abortions should be "condemned and banned," but that they "shouldn't be a reason for refuting the whole (one child) policy".
Officials at Zhenping county hospital, where the abortion allegedly took place, refused comment when repeatedly contacted by AFP.
[Gynecologist chair via Karkas / Shutterstock]