The family planning authority in Shaanxi province said on Thursday it will show no tolerance to officials who committed a "serious violation" by performing an abortion on a woman seven months pregnant.
An investigation team was sent to Zhenping county this week after images widely circulated online of Feng Jianmei, 23, lying in a hospital bed next to her dead baby girl.
Her 30-year-old husband, Deng Jiyuan, posted the pictures on Tuesday along with allegations that his wife was given an abortion on June 2 against her wishes and without her family being notified beforehand.
Preliminary findings show Feng was given an injection to induce an abortion, and that this "seriously violated" regulations, said a statement from the Shaanxi Population and Family Planning Commission on Thursday.
No details were given about what violations occurred. However, the statement said all responsible parties will be punished.
The commission suggested family planning officials nationwide draw "profound lessons" from the case, and reiterated its commitment to end late-stage abortions.
"Our baby was seven months old, do you think we would agree to an abortion?" Deng said on Wednesday, adding that he had appealed to authorities in Zhenping several times before releasing the images but had received no response.
He said his father had taken the pictures of mother and baby at the hospital.
"I was working in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and received a text message from (a family planning official) saying that if I did not hand over 40,000 yuan ($6,300) to the government my wife would have to abort our child," said Deng, showing the message, which he had stored on his cell phone.
When asked about the message by China Daily, the official denied sending it, claiming it was a fake and saying he had never requested money from Deng.
The county's population and family planning commission denied Feng was forced to have an abortion, saying the operation was performed because she was in breach of regulations and that she had given her consent.
Under the rules, couples in which both husband and wife have rural hukou, or household registration, can have a second child once their first reaches the age of 5. Deng and Feng have a 5-year-old daughter.
However, Feng was born in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and has no rural hukou in Zhenping, so the couple were not eligible for a second child, Ding Hongxia, an official with the county's family planning commission, said on Wednesday.
The commission added that the operation was carried out in accordance with provincial regulations. Officials made "great efforts to convince Feng (to have an abortion) and she finally agreed to undergo the operation", Ding said.
Deng said his wife has recovered physically from the ordeal but is suffering mental trauma. The couple is demanding an apology from the family planning commission.
Yuan Xin, a professor at Nankai University's population and development institute in Tianjin, said forced abortion is illegal in China, even if a couple is in violation of the family planning policy.
However, with written consent from the mother, it is legal to carry out an abortion up to 28 weeks into pregnancy.
Zhao Sanchun, an obstetrician at Shaanxi Maternal and Children's Hospital, said abortions on women more than three months pregnant must be approved by family planning officials.
However, she warned that the operation carries a risk of causing infertility.