Exclusive: Mother in forced abortion case gives testimony

Friday, September 27, 2013

China Aid Association 

Li Fengfei
(Bijie, Guizhou–Sept. 27, 2013) The victim of one of the most shocking forced abortion cases to be reported has given ChinaAid an exclusive and detailed account of the events that led up to the termination of her mid-term pregnancy by officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou.

Li Fengfei, 31, was in her second trimester when the forced abortion for her unauthorized pregnancy took place in July. She was injected with drugs that killed her unborn child, but it took nearly two weeks to deliver the stillborn baby. Li's case differed from most forced abortion cases in that Li, an accountant and a Miao minority, had apparently been framed in a corruption cover-up.

ChinaAid's earlier report of Li forced abortion can be viewed at http://www.chinaaid.org/2013/07/family-planning-committee-in-jinsha.html. After exposing the shocking events on the Internet, Li was arrested on fake embezzlement charges. The report of Li’s arrest can be found at http://www.chinaaid.org/2013/09/li-fengfei-arrested-after-exposing.html.

In early September, Li agreed to be interviewed on camera by ChinaAid in her hometown. At the beginning of the 30-minute video, she gives an account of her educational and work background. After getting an associate's degree from the Qiannan School of Public Administration in 2000, she began working in January 2005 as an accountant in her hometown of Qingmen, Qinsha county, in the town's public finance office. In December 2012, the county Audit Bureau discovered that270,000 yuan ($44,113) that had been given to Yang Zejun was missing from Qingmen's books. Yang denied taking the missing money, and the case was sent to the county Discipline Inspection Commission for investigation.
Li said in the video interview that when she refused to go along with the cover up story created by coworkers and Yang's brother-in-law, Li Zhi, who was head of the investigation section of the Discipline Inspection Commission, she was framed for embezzling the missing funds.

On April 12, Li was summoned to the local prosecutor's office for questioning, and at 8 a.m. on April 14, after nearly two days of questioning and much pressure from Chen Mingshan, head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, and other officials, Li confessed.

In the video, she explained why she caved: “Because of the unrelenting interrogation and also because of morning sickness from my pregnancy, [I just] wanted to rest.”

With her confession in hand, officials quickly produced paperwork for her criminal detention on suspicion of embezzlement and backdated it to April 13, she said. Li was immediately transferred to the Jinsha County detention center, where she was held for the next two months.

Criminal detention is usually the first step to an arrest and conviction, and Li was formally arrested on April 26. Investigators had hidden the fact that she was several months pregnant when they obtained the arrest warrant from the Bijie Municipal People's Procuratorate, Li said .On April 18, Li and her lawyer applied for bail pending trial, which should have been granted according to several Chinese laws. If no decision was made, Li and her lawyer should have been informed.

Li explained in the video interview that she was pregnant with her second child without government approval. Knowing that she was in violation of China's one-child policy, Li said she applied for release on bail so that she could get an abortion while still in the first trimester.

However, no decision on the bail request until May 14. At that time, Chen informed Li’s lawyer and family that because of Li’s “bad attitude” in confessing to the crime, they had to submit another bail application, Li said in the video.

By the time Li was released on June 14, her pregnancy was already mid-term. It wasn't until she was released that Li learned that, as a condition of her release, she was required to terminate her pregnancy within 10 days. Li, who by then had been pregnant for about 100 days, complied, only to learn that the hospital she visited would not perform mid-term abortions, she said. Li also learned at the exam that the placenta was dangerously close to her cervix (placenta previa) and was told that inducing labor would put her life at risk.

Li found herself caught between two government bureaucracies. The procuratorate told Li that the abortion decision was a private matter between her and her husband, that it was a matter for the family planning office, and that it had nothing to do with the procuratorate, The head of the county family planning bureau told Li’s husband that in their situation where both husband and wife were government employees, an unauthorized birth would mean both parents would be fired and said if they chose to abort the baby, they should find an appropriate time to do so, Li said.

With this information, Li and her husband decided that she should carry the baby to full-term rather than risk her life with an abortion.

Li said in the video, “As the saying goes, a storm may arise from a clear sky,” meaning the unexpected can happen at any time. “July 9 is the saddest day of my life,” she continued.

She recounted the events of that day: “At about 9 a.m., a group of people knocked on our door. They said they were from the family planning office and told me to go with them. Because I was worried that the children and elderly people at home might be frightened, I suggested talking outside.

“As soon as we were outside, I was under their control,” Li said. On the pretext of retrieving a transcript from their office, the officials took Li straight to the county family planning instruction station, where the officials’ intentions became clear, she said. “They wanted me to abort the child in my womb.”

At first, the officials said Li should be examined, but she told them she had already had an exam and that the baby was healthy but because of the placenta previa an abortion would put her life at risk. She said she also told them that she and her husband had already discussed the matter with the family planning office director, Zhou Yijun. “They wouldn’t listen to me. After that, several dozen men and women pinched me all over my body, pinched me until my bones hurt. I was very helpless. I called my husband and told him to come to rescue me. When he arrived, the leaders of the county Family Planning Bureau and the Qingmen town government said to us: ‘This child is going to be aborted today. Even if you don't want to abort it, it will be aborted. It’s easy to have another child. After this one is aborted, if you have another, no one will care. We don’t want to go do this, either, but the procuratorate won't relent,’” Li said in the video.

A struggle ensued when Li continued to refuse to have an abortion and several family planning law enforcement officers were called in to take her to have blood drawn. When she continued to resist, a dozen people began to beat and verbally abuse her, Li said. During the struggle, one of her incisors was knocked out and she tried to force it back in place.

When Li's husband tried to protect her, he was dragged away. When he tried to take photos, his camera was confiscated and he was dragged into the hall and locked up. Several men kept him confined where they hit him in the head and tore his shirt, she said.

Li said that her husband tried to insert himself between Li and the group to protect Li, but he was pulled away. He also tried to capture the abuse on camera, but his camera was confiscated. He was then locked in a hallway where several men beat him and tore his shirt.

The group told Li that they would detain her husband if he continued to interfere. Worried that if her husband were also detained, their daughter would be without both parents, Li said she begged Qingmen party secretary Luo Qing and the leaders of the Family Planning Bureau to let her husband go. “But they said, even if they agreed to release him, they would do so only after I'd been given the injection to induce labor. Otherwise, they would call the police and have him locked up, because he had obstructed their execution of official duties,” Li said.

She then described being pinned to an operating table by several women who asked Li to sign consent forms. When she refused, they pulled Li off the operating table, signed the document and told Li to put her fingerprint beside the forged signature. Li again refused and a half-dozen women first tried to pry her hand open, then hit her on the head a few times and finally called three men over. They succeeded in prying Li’s fingers open one by one and placed Li’s thumbprint beside the forged signature.

The group once again pinned Li down to the operating table and injected her with Rivanol. “When the long needle went into my belly toward my child, I cried until I was utterly exhausted,” she said in the video. “I could not protect you, child of mine. Mama has done everything possible. But Mama could not save you,” she said.

Li said that after the injection, she lost all hope and asked for the strongest pain medication available. She was told that she would deliver the baby within 12 hours.

At first, Li experienced tolerable abdominal pain, but it subsided and she developed a dangerously high fever. Seventy-two hours after the injection, she had no feeling, she said. Family planning workers then gave Li another injection to induce labor, but the high fever persisted and there was still no delivery.

Forty-eight hours after the second injection, officials tried to give Li a third injection. “I leaped from the operation table and demanded to be transferred to another hospital,” Li said.

Li was sent to Zunyi Medical Institute, accompanied by family planning workers to restrict her freedom of movement, she said. After four days of tests, doctors told Li that the fetus had died and that she had liver damage from the injections.

She was then given two options: take the oral abortion drugs Mifepristone and Mifepristone or have a Caesarean. Li chose the Caesarean because the abortion drugs would further harm her liver and kidneys, but the county family planning bureau tried to dissuade her. She tried to get discharged from the hospital, but her family wanted her to stay in hospital.

Li tried to get discharged from the hospital, but was told to have antibiotics administered intravenously first. After the antibiotics, the hospital, under the influence of family planning officials, told Li that her liver was functioning normally. Under the doctor’s advisement, Li consented to medication to induce labor once again.

“At this point, I was very weak and on the verge of death,” she said in the video. Li consented to taking some oral antibiotics, after which the hospital, under pressure from family planning officials sent some new doctors to tell her that her liver functions were normal. Because of their “persuasion,” Li agreed to take the abortion drugs, she said.

On July 21, 13 days after the initial injection, Li delivered a still-born baby boy, which she was told had already started to decay. “The doctor asked me if I wanted to see him, but I dared not look. This child that I tried to protect with my life, this is how he leaves me. He was so reluctant to go!” Li said in the video.

“I call on the righteous and kind-hearted people of the outside world to show concern to my sufferings. I call on our superiors to undo the injustice on me. I also hope the people in the political and legal departments can investigate the violators of the law who did this to me,” Li said at the conclusion of the interview.

ChinaAid will continue to monitor Li’s case. A sentence is expected within the month.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Website: www.chinaaid.org