Feng Jianmei, whose forced abortion last summer lit a firestorm against the country’s one-child policy, spoke out about her experience for the first time Feb. 14 on a Chinese TV station.
A graphic photo of Feng next to her dead baby aborted at 7 months gestation went viral last June, angering citizens and leading to Chinese officials banning late-term abortions. Since then, public opinion has started to turn against the one-child policy: Several high-profile scholars have openly criticized the policy.
Feng spoke to Dragon TV, a Shanghai satellite TV station broadcast over most of China, including Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Throughout most of the video clip, the camera either kept her face out of focus, shot from far away or close up on her eyes.
The young mother said she had moved 600 miles from her family and husband in her hometown of Shaanxi to Jiangsu to get away from the memories of her hometown and for medical treatment. Feng’s family faced harassment by the local government after the story went public, with officials following and tracking her husband, slashing the tires of a family vehicle, and staging protests outside the hospital where Feng was staying.
“I thought that if I changed my living environment, my mood would get better,” Feng told the reporter in Mandarin. “After I went to Jiangsu province, I felt much better. Before, when people recognized me, it always reminded me of the forced abortion. … I felt very uncomfortable.”
Feng has also been in and out of the hospital for medical problems related to the forced abortion, and has had two small surgical procedures that cost her almost 10,000 RMB ($1,700). She is on medication also.
When the photo went viral, the local government publicly apologized to Feng’s family, firing some officials, giving the family some compensation money, and promising to pay for any future hospital bills related to the abortion. But her treatment and surgeries have not been covered: “They told me about a reimbursement in the beginning, but they never mention it anymore.”
Feng hopes to finish her treatment, get better, and move back to Shaanxi to be with her young daughter and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, who works at a cement factory.
Six months later, Feng still feels the pain of her ordeal. “Several local government officials lost their jobs and I got compensation, but there is no real winner in this case,” she said. “We lost the most. We lost a baby.”