A pregnant Chinese woman has killed herself after being refused a caesarean section, prompting universal condemnation of the country's strict surgical laws, according to reports.
Last month, the 27-year-old woman - identified only as Ma - was suffering from excruciating pain after going into labour at No 1 Hospital in the city of Yulin in Shaanxi Province, northern China, reports the Independent.
In shocking footage of the 41-week pregnant woman, Ma can be seen pleading for a caesarean as her baby's head was too large for a natural birth and causing her intense pain.
The clip shows Ms Ma walking around the maternity ward in the final hours before her death.
The Metro reports doctors examined the pregnant woman and determined that she needed a caesarean as she was not able to give birth naturally because the baby's head was too big.
The China Economic Daily newspaper revealed the woman had been told by doctors 'the large foetal head circumference meant that vaginal delivery would have been very risky'.
However, her family is claimed to have insisted on a natural birth and refused her the right to undergo the procedure.
Chinese law currently dictates medical professionals must seek the approval of family members before carrying out major surgery, including C-sections.
A spokesperson for the hospital treating Ma reportedly said: 'The family said they understood, but refused the surgery, and wanted to keep the situation under observation.'
However, her husband - identified only as 'Yan' - told the Beijing Youth Daily: 'We did not disagree to a caesarean.'
Hours later, Ma reportedly jumped from a hospital room on 31 August, killing herself and her unborn child.
Caesarean sections in China have been a concern among international medical professionals in recent years with the country having one of the highest caesarean rates in the world in 2014.
A report in Science Daily noted that of 16 million babies born in 2010, approximately half were by caesarean, widely thought to be related to the country's one-child policy.
Many parents and grandparents demand C-sections, explains the New York Times, to assure that births take place on a lucky day in the astrological calendar, or because they believe that a surgically removed infant is more likely to be perfectly formed.
However, when the state waived the policy in October 2015, natural births became increasingly more popular.
Chinese midwife Xiao Yan - an advocate of vaginal birth - explained to the Chinese Daily earlier this year: 'Now, due to the second-child policy, women have been considering the risks associated with C-sections more carefully.
A recent study proved the Chinese cesarean rate has dropped dramatically over the years and is substantially lower than what had been reported by the World Health Organization.
For example, in Beijing the rate fell from 59.2 per cent in 2008 to 43.2 per cent in 2014, while in Shanghai fell from 68.0 per cent to 52.4 per cent during the same period.
National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesperson Mao Qun'an told the Financial Times in 2016: 'Women need to consider that if they choose C-sections for their first birth, it could affect their second pregnancy.'
Ma's death has caused outrage across social media, with women calling for improved reproductive rights in China and around the world.
One commenter on Weibo wrote (in Chinese): 'Ladies, please remember to bring your parents to the hospital when giving birth. Even though you think you are part of your husband's family when you marry him, your father and mother-in-law are very unlikely to treat you as their real daughter. You'll be surprised to find out how selfish they are.'
Another wrote: 'From the hospital's perspective, there is no reason not to allow the lady to have a C-section, given that it usually can charge more from a cesarean birth than a vaginal birth.'
Police told local media that the woman's death was being treated as a suicide.