A Chinese obstetrician is in deep legal trouble after police caught her stealing newborn babies from her patients and selling them off to child trafficking rings earlier this year. The doctor, Zhang Shuxia, from north central Shaanxi province, is facing charges of selling seven of her patients’ infants.
According to the local Weinan court’s verified social media account, Zhang allegedly sold the babies, including twins, to child traffickers between November 2011 and July 2013. The case came to the attention of authorities after two parents went to the police while suspecting their child had been abducted. Six of the children have been rescued from the trafficking ring, but one baby girl has since died.
Zhang’s position as an obstetrician at Shaanxi’s Fuping Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital allowed her access to children by gaining the trust of new parents. The most recent case involved a baby that was born on July 16, and was sold off by Zhang after she had told the newborn’s parents that their son had a serious congenital disease. Because of China’s population-control laws, the One Child policy only allows for the typical Chinese family to have a single offspring -- as such, having a healthy child becomes a priority to many parents (although that policy is set to be revised in 2014 by lawmakers to now allow for two children).
Moreover, Zhang was able to convince the parents to give up the child. Zhang eventually sold the boy to a buyer in neighboring Henan province. However, the parents weren’t convinced by Zhang’s diagnosis and suspected their child was being trafficked. The baby’s parents notified local authorities four days later, and a search began. Less than a month later, after a dramatic police rescue, the newborn was reunited with his parents. China’s state media agency Xinhua reported in August that the infant was sold for 21,600 yuan, roughly $3,500 to a middle man, who eventually sold the child to another buyer for 30,000 yuan, or $4,850.
However, Zhang, as well as two others who had a hand in what appears to be a child trafficking ring, were arrested. Defense lawyers for Zhang are claiming that the parents in the cases had all voluntarily given up their babies, and that their clients had not technically “abducted” them. Zhang is also a prominent doctor in the area, having received many awards in her role as an obstetrician.