In the wake of a recent forced abortion scandal, the country's population and family planning authority is launching a large-scale inspection that will target improper practices during policy implementation.
The National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) revealed Wednesday that an inspection will be conducted in 19 key provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities by 10 teams.
Without specifying the targeted areas or an exact date for the campaign, the commission said in a statement that the drive will focus on rectifying prominent problems within grass-roots family planning organs, with a particular emphasis on the collection of "social maintenance fees," the implementation of contraceptive measures and the management of the floating population.
The inspection also aims to eliminate "unstable social factors," deal with the increasing number of petitions and investigate "social contradictions."
Wang Xia, chief of the NPFPC, urged the officials to attach great importance to the inspection, as "even slight carelessness in law enforcement will damage the image of the Party and the country."
He Yafu, a media commentator and expert on the population and family planning issue, said that the campaign is the commission's effort to restore trust among the public, after the policy encountered an unprecedented level of controversy following the forced abortion scandal in Shaanxi Province.
On June 2, 23-year-old Feng Jianmei in Zhenping county, Ankang, was forced by the local family planning body to abort her 7-month-old baby after her family failed to pay 40,000 yuan for their second child, the family alleged.
Seven local officials involved have either been removed from their posts or given intra-Party disciplinary warnings, among other punishments.
Deng Jiyuan, Feng's husband, arrived in Beijing yesterday to seek legal assistance, according to Zhang Kai, a Beijing-based lawyer. Zhang will handle the case.
Liang Zhongtang, a demographer and former member of the NPFPC's expert committee, said this campaign could help pressure local governments to be more cautious about abortions in the future, adding that a mechanism for routine checks is essential but difficult to establish unless some changes are made in the relevant laws.
Xie Xue, a judge, said forced abortions would not constitute crimes of intentional homicide or kidnapping, but could constitute an intentional injury crime, according to the Southern Weekly.
The judge said if complications were found after instances of abortion, the injury would be regarded as "serious" and suspects may face an imprisonment of between three and 10 years.
Liao Mengxia contributed to this story