A startling image of abortion

This picture has swept the Chinese media and outraged hundreds of millions of China’s citizens. It shows 25-year-old Feng Jianmei, lying in a hospital bed with the remains of her seven month old fetus.

Feng and her child were the victim of China’s one-child-policy, which licensed government officials to forcibly administer an injection to induce a late-term abortion. I have pixellated the image because it is graphic, but I invite readers to click on the image, which will open an unpixellated version.

Feng Jianmei and her aborted foetus. (Click image to remove pixellation.)

I hesitated when I was faced with the same decision. But I gritted my teeth and clicked the link. What shocked me was not the grisliness of the foetal remains, but the graphic revelation that a seven month old human foetus is not “just a clump of cells,” but a child.

The unpixellated image is not, I think, offensive. But it is startling. Its publication has already caused the suspension of the family planning officials who beat Feng and killed her child. It may well — I hope and pray — reignite debates around the world about the ethics of late term abortion, and the nature of abortion itself.

On the other hand, I suspect much of the Western press will censor the image. After all, editors of The Age deemed this image too offensive to print:

Picture by Michael Clancy. (Click image to read about its history.)

I doubt that the casualties of forced abortions will receive the sort of uncensored coverage which victims of other violent crime now attract.