Chinese officials apologise to woman in forced abortion
City officials in China have apologised to a woman who was forced to have an abortion and suspended three people responsible, state media reports.
This came after photos showing a foetus and the mother, Feng Jianmei, shocked web users.
She was made to undergo the procedure in Shaanxi province in the seventh month of pregnancy, local officials said after investigating.
Chinese law clearly prohibits abortions beyond six months.
The Ankang city government said it decided to suspend three officials in Zhenping county following initial investigations. It also urged the county government to conduct a thorough review of its family planning operations, said Xinhua news.
China has long denied that its vast army of local family planning officials are using abortion to enforce the country's one-child policy.
In this case, though, there has been a rare admission that her pregnancy was terminated against her will, and now action will be taken against certain officials.
What has made the difference appears clear.
Minutes after the abortion, a family member posted on the internet a photograph of Feng Jianmei's aborted foetus, clearly formed at seven months, lying next to her on a hospital bed and the image went viral.
It is a classic illustration of the challenge posed to China's one party system by the internet.
On Thursday night, the city officials apologised to Ms Feng, 27, and her family, the report said.
She was ''forced to terminate her pregnancy'' at a hospital in Zhenping on 2 June, said Xinhua.
Officials in Zhenping county claimed she agreed to the abortion because she was not allowed to have a second child by law. She already has a daughter, born in 2007.
But activists said she was forced into the abortion as she could not pay the fine for having a second child.'Violence against women'
Rights groups say China's one-child policy has meant women being coerced into abortions, which Beijing denies.
"Feng Jianmei's story demonstrates how the One-Child Policy continues to sanction violence against women every day," said Chai Ling of the US-based activist group All Girls Allowed.
The group says it spoke to Ms Feng and her husband Deng Jiyuan after the incident. Mr Deng said his wife had been forcibly taken to hospital and restrained before the procedure.
Media reports from China says Ms Feng has been traumatised by what has happened.
The photos sparked outrage among Internet users.
"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," one reader on news website netease.com said, according to the AFP news agency.
Activist Chen Guangcheng, who was put under virtual house arrest for campaigning against forced abortions, fled China to the US last month.