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China: Baby-stealing Obstetrician Faces Death Penalty

Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician involved in baby trafficking, stands trial in Weinan Intermediate People's Court in Weinan, Shaanxi province, Dec. 30, 2013.
A doctor in northern China faces a possible death sentence after confessing to stealing seven newborn babies and selling them to human traffickers.

State media reported that Zhang Shuxia, who delivered babies at a hospital in Shaanxi province's Fuping county, acknowledged in court to trafficking the seven babies.

The 55-year-old obstetrician was accused of persuading parents to give up their children after falsely claiming they had serious, congenital diseases.

Six of the children have been rescued, but one died after being trafficked for $165.

The state-run Global Times said Zhang apologized to the victims' families, saying she was "deluded by an accomplice into selling babies in the mistaken belief she was helping families in need."

The sale of children is a major problem in China, where analysts say a strict one-child policy has helped create demand exploited by underground trafficking rings.

The Chinese government has taken steps to combat the problem, including tightening lax adoption rules and starting a crackdown on child trafficking rings. Beijing has also begun gradually loosening its one-child policy.

The Global Times says those convicted of child trafficking usually face life imprisonment, but quoted Chinese legal experts who said in serious cases, a death penalty could be given.

There has not been a verdict in Zhang's trial, which began Monday.