Chinese officials are allegedly violating the nation’s law against forced abortions to meet quotas imposed under the so-called “one-child” policy.
Sky News interviewed a couple from Shandong province just a week after they were physically forced into an abortion by the Chinese authorities, three months before their child was due to be born.
WARNING: Some may find the images and content of the following video disturbing:
A group of 20 government officials from the Shandong Province Family Planning Commission kicked down the door of the family's home in the middle of the night, restrained Zhou Guoqiang and whisked his wife away.
Liu Xinwen, 33, told Sky News she was ripped from her bed and taken to a government-run hospital, where she was injected with an abortion-inducing drug.
The baby, which she would later discover was a boy, died a day later in her womb.
"I miss him," a sobbing Liu told Sky News six days later.
"I didn't get to see him. I would be even more upset if I had seen him.
"Baby, I'm sorry. We were not meant to be. You rest in peace in heaven. We will pray for you. We hope your next life is better."
The parents, who already have a 10-year-old son, are devastated.
Liu said she was forcibly implanted with a contraceptive device after his birth to prevent future pregnancies. When the device failed, they were given the option to tell authorities about the pregnancy but refused out of fear they would be forced to abort the baby.
Instead, they planned to tell the authorities after the birth and then offer to pay the fine, a common practice in parts of rural China.
The couple's ordeal underscores the brutality of China's one-child policy, which came into effect about three decades ago.
It allows families in rural areas to have a second child if their first was a girl. Other couples are granted permission to expand their families for a fee, which can be exorbitant. There are hefty fines for violating the rules.
"The Chinese government will forcibly abort women up to the ninth month of pregnancy. These forced abortions are sometimes so violent that the women themselves die along with their full term babies. Forced abortion is official government rape," said human-rights activist Reggie Littlejohn of the U.S.-based Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.
The policy is supposed to be enforced through financial penalties and not forced abortions. But in some provinces, overzealous local family planning offices and the Communist Party officials who staff them, keen to keep within their birth quotas, break the law and terminate pregnancies by force.
“For every couple brave enough to go public with their late-term forced abortion, there are thousands or millions who suffer the same fate silently," added Littlejohn.
The Chinese Communist Party boasts it has prevented 400 million lives through the one-child policy, according to WRWF. They have reported 336 million abortions and 200 million sterilizations through its enforcement. Nearly 1,500 unborn babies are aborted every hour under the policy.
"They don't have any humanity. They are not humans," Liu said.
"They must have children and parents, too. But they don't have any conscience. This is how China is."
Several photographs taken in the hospital room show Liu lying on the bed. Beside her, on the floor, is a bucket. Inside is her aborted child.
"His nose, ears, mouth are all there," Zhou told Sky News.
"It is a child that would have lived if not for the forced abortion. It's because of their cruelty. Look, his hand is very obvious."
Zhou told Sky's correspondent Mark Stone that he begged to pay the fine to get an exemption from the controversial population-control policy, but by the time he made it to the hospital, his wife had already been injected with drugs to kill their child.
"My wife was lying in bed. I asked her, 'Have you been injected?' She said 'yes.' I asked if the baby was still moving. She said 'not much.'"
"After that, I didn't want my wife to see my crying. I went outside. I cried, but only for a while because I needed to return to comfort her. She was very sad. She cried, day and night.
"Every time I heard babies' voices from other wards, I could hardly control myself. I had to go out. I have lost my child. I am speechless, words can't describe my feelings."
A nurse in the hospital's maternity ward told Sky News she "didn't know if the abortion was forced or not."
"There are many reasons for abortions. I don't know the specific reason for this case and it's not my place to care," she added.
Sky News contacted the Chinese Embassy in London for comment. The request for comment on the story from China's central government went unanswered.