An eastern Chinese woman desperate to give her husband the son he always wanted, died after she was forced to undergo four abortions in the same year because her husband did not want a girl.
The woman who gave birth to a daughter four years earlier under China's one-child policy was hoping to give her husband a boy under the Asian nation's two-child policy instituted in 2015.
For each of her pregnancies, Yueyue's husband insisted that she undergo ultrasound scans to find out the baby's sex even though the practice is illegal in China. Each time, however, he was disappointed that it wasn't a boy and forced her to terminate the pregnancies until she became bedridden the last time around. Her husband later forced her to agree to a divorce so he could be with another woman instead of helping to nurse her back to health.
The woman was eventually able to get medical attention using the money she got from the divorce settlement but it was too late and she died.
Reports in local media said the woman's relatives, including her mother who suffered a stroke after hearing about her daughter's death, went to her ex-husband's new home with her ashes on Monday to protest for justice.
The ex-husband hid inside a neighbor's home, however, and refused to meet with them. The case is being investigated by local police.
Sparked by fears that the country's economic growth could be affected by an aging population, China ended its one-child policy and allowed married couples to have two children.
The one-child policy instituted in the late 1970s had, according to The New York Times, created a culture of resentment and "brutal intrusions" that included many forced abortions and staggering fines especially in the rural areas of China.
It further skewed the male to female ratio in the country of 1.3 billion people to such a point where rural families especially would resort to infanticide to ensure they have a son in some cases.
In 2016, the first full year of China's two-child policy, the number of babies born increased by 1.31 million or 7.9 percent over the previous year to 17.86 million.
Information released by the State Department in 2016 said China performs about 23 million abortions annually.
"The government imposed a coercive birth-limitation policy that, despite lifting one-child-per-family restrictions, denied women the right to decide the number of their children and in some cases resulted in forced abortions (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy)," the report said.
State-controlled media in China said abortions had declined in the country due to the introduction of the two-child policy but a culture that encourages abortions is still prevalent.
"As in prior years, population control policy continued to rely on social pressure, education, propaganda, and economic penalties as well as on measures such as mandatory pregnancy examinations and coercive abortions and sterilizations," the State Department said.
"Those found to have a pregnancy in violation of the law or those who helped another to evade state controls could face punitive measures, such as onerous fines, job loss, demotion, and loss of promotion opportunity."
Last July, a state-funded news outlet said officials in Guangdong Province threatened a remarried couple with termination of their employment unless the wife had an abortion. Both individuals were government employees and each had a child from a prior marriage.