Councils accused of pressuring women to get abortions
November 26, 2012 - 22:15
"Grotesque" practice of advising low-income women of the consequences of having another child blurs legal lines
Poor pregnant women are being pressured to get abortions by social workers in their councils, according to lawyers that specialise in helping at-risk citizens.
21-year-old Simone Jørgensen said that she was pressured to pursue an abortion when she became pregnant in September of last year.
"My social worker told me that if I wanted to keep the daughter that I already have, then I had to get an abortion," Jørgensen told DR news.
Several lawyers confirmed that councils have pressured other young women like Jørgensen to get an abortion.
"I get a call every other month from a woman in this situation," Lars Buurgaard Sørensen, a lawyer from Brønderslev, told DR. Sørensen called the practise "grotesque".
Rasmus Hedegaard, a lawyer from Aarhus, said he gets at least one call every month from women being pressured by their council.
"It is offensive to threaten a mother that the state will take her child if she does not get an abortion," said Hedegaard.
Hedegaard said that social workers should be offering young mothers security, not threats.
What the social workers are doing is against the law, according to one expert.
Trine Schultz, a social law professor at Aalborg University, told DR that while the law does give social workers the right to advise families of the potential consequences of having more children, “that is a long way from telling people that they should have an abortion."
Schultz said that abortion was a health issue and that only health authorities should offer advice in that area.
Peter Brügge, who supervises social workers in Randers, Jørgensen’s former council, said that he felt that the social worker was within their rights to mention abortion to Jørensen.
"I think it is fine to talk about abortion as an option," he said. "That doesn't mean we should push anyone, but they should understand the possible consequences of having more children.”