Officials have apologised to a Chinese woman who was forced to have an abortion while seven months pregnant and have suspended three people responsible for the incident.
The move came just days after shocking photographs emerged on the web showing the mother, Feng Jianmei, lying next to her blood-covered baby minutes after the procedure took place.
Officials have apologised in a move to allay public anger over the case, which has triggered renewed criticism of China’s widely hated one-child limit.
In this latest case, Feng, 27, told local media that she was forcibly injected with a chemical to induce an abortion and her child was stillborn 36 hours later at a hospital in Shaanxi province.
Local officials said they were investigating the incident, as Chinese law prohibits abortions beyond six months.
The grisly photographs, which were taken by Feng’s sister, have shocked anti-abortion groups in China – and fury is spreading around the world.
Because she already had a five-year-old daughter, said Feng, local birth-control authorities ordered her to pay a fine of £4,000.
She didn’t have the money, she said, so a team from the local family planning authority in Shannxi province came to collect her from her home and take her to hospital for the forced abortion.
Recounting the horror, Feng said she told the family planning department she could not pay the fine because her mother-in-law needed money for cancer treatment.
It was then, she claimed, the authorities began their action against her.
She said no less than 20 staff from the family planning department came to her home and placed her under arrest.
In a phone interview with NBC, Feng claimed that she was dragged out of her relative’s home, carried and shoved into a van that headed straight to a hospital on June 2.
She was then beaten, blindfolded, thrown on a bed, and forced to sign a document that she couldn’t read with the blindfold still on her eyes.
As outrage spread of the incident, Chai Ling of the U.S.-based activist group All Girls Allowed said Feng’s story demonstrated how the One-Child Policy continued to sanction violence against women every day.
The group said it had spoken to Feng and her husband Deng Jiyuan after the incident, when Mr Deng claimed his wife had been forcibly taken to hospital and restrained before she was given the injection.
Within China there has been growing outrage on social media sites.
One writer commented: ‘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.’ The writer added: ‘They (the officials) should be executed.
As outrage spread around anti-abortion groups in China, the authorities strenuously denied Feng’s version of the events.
Li Yuongjou, deputy chief of Ankang’s family department, said the reality was that ‘Feng was not forced to abort’.