A Muslim Uighur woman who's more than six months pregnant remained under watch in a hospital in China's far northwest Friday awaiting a forced abortion by authorities who don't want her to have a third child.
A nurse tending to the woman in Yining, near China's border with Kazakhstan, said doctors had delayed the abortion because of international queries on her case.
China has a one-child-per-family rule on majority Han Chinese, with more flexibility for ethnic minorities, to contain its population of 1.3 billion citizens.
Those who violate the rule must pay large fines, and reports of officials ordering forced abortions in rural and semirural areas are common.
Arzigul Tursun is 26 weeks pregnant, and supporters say an abortion could threaten her health. Her husband, who goes by the single name Nurmemet, said officials in their village near Yining warned the couple their house and other property would be seized if Arzigul didn't undergo an abortion.
He said the couple might have until Monday to appeal.
Arzigul is at the Municipal Watergate Hospital in Yining in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which is populated heavily with Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers), a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority. Militant Uighurs seeking independence have carried out a terrorism campaign that has intensified this year, and social tensions in the region are high.
U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican, wrote China's ambassador to Washington, Zhou Wenzhong, on Thursday.
“The Chinese government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice,” Smith said in a statement.
Arzigul and Nurmemet have two daughters in the village of Bulaq. According to the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, Arzigul fled Bulaq when officials first urged an abortion, but returned after threats of asset seizure.
“We considered our two girls,” Nurmemet said by phone. “If the house and properties were taken away, how would they live? So my wife came back home and went to the hospital.”