Shaanxi Population and Family Planning Commission officials are probing allegations that authorities in Zengjia town forced a woman who was seven months pregnant to have an abortion almost two weeks ago.
The commission said in a statement on the province's official website that a team had been sent to Ankang , the city that oversees the township, to conduct an investigation.
A circular was also distributed to the populace emphasising that the legal rights of pregnant women should be upheld and that the 'abortion of late-term pregnancies' was prohibited.
The notice came after an outpouring of public anger over widely disseminated online postings this week that described how family-planning authorities in Zengjia abducted Feng Jianmei , 22, for three days and forcibly removed her baby on June 2 because it violated the nation's one-child policy.
She and her husband have a five-year-old girl.
The public was particularly angered upon seeing pictures taken by Feng's sister-in-law that showed the bloody corpse of the aborted baby girl alongside Feng, who looked overcome with exhaustion.
One internet user called it a brutal murder and compared it to the 'slaughter of children and women in Syria', and others called for a review of the nation's one-child policy, which has resulted in similar late-term abortions.
Authorities implemented the controversial family-planning policy in the late 1970s. Under the policy, urban families are generally allowed to have one child, while rural families may give birth to two children if the first is a girl. Some cities have allowed a second child if the parents were the only child in their families.
Feng's husband, Deng Jiyuan, spoke to the South China Morning Post by phone yesterday, saying: 'My wife is not well. She is sad and distressed. Sometimes she becomes emotional and confused.'
Deng was working in Inner Mongolia when the abortion was carried out. He was contacted after authorities took away his wife to discuss the fine for having a second child, which was 40,000 yuan (HK$49,000). 'That's more than what I earned in four years,' he said. 'We don't have that much money.'
Deng wrote in the online posting that township officials used black cloth to cover Feng's head while she was driven to the Zhenping county hospital in Ankang. They then induced the labour by giving her a shot that killed the fetus.
Zhenping family-planning authorities quickly issued a statement on Monday saying that a consensus was reached with Feng to carry out the abortion, 'after repeated persuasion by the township officials'. However, Deng yesterday refuted the local government's statement.
'Several people pushed her into a car and then drove her to the hospital. My family was barred from seeing her. She would not consent to the procedure, so they forced her to put her fingerprint from her left hand on a document,' Deng said. 'It was against her will to have the abortion.'
Deng said that he had filed an official complaint with Ankang's petition office and had even met a deputy mayor, who demanded a thorough investigation. But nothing came from it, so Deng wrote about his family's ordeal online.
Zhang Kai, a Beijing lawyer, said he had spoken with Deng by phone and would review the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the township government.