Greenland’s Contraceptive Battle with Denmark

( – A group of 67 native Greenlandic women are threatening to sue the Danish state over secretive and forced sterilization procedures they say they were subjected to between 1966 and 1970. The women allege they are a small portion of roughly 4,500 women and girls that Danish doctors did this to in an attempt to keep Greenland’s population down.

At the time this was done some of the women subjected to the sterilization were as young as twelve years old. The women allege that while visiting with Danish doctors for routine checkups, they were fitted and implanted with IUD devices. IUD stands for an intrauterine device, which is a T-shaped plastic piece roughly the size of a quarter that is placed on the inside of the uterus and will prevent pregnancy.

None of the woman say they gave any kind of consent for these implantations and several report having deleterious side effects from having the device inside of them. Some of the women reported suffering from abdominal infections, internal bleeding, general severe pain, and several say their uteruses had to be removed entirely. They say they will not follow through with the lawsuit if Denmark officials agree to pay each of them 300,000 Danish kroner.

The first woman to go public about having experienced this treatment was Naja Lyberth, who said she was implanted without her knowledge during a visit to a medical school doctor. She says this act done to her and the other women was a violation of not only the law but also their human rights. After the implantation, the group says, follow-up care was virtually non-existent, leaving the women to suffer their pain and side effects without care.

The issue was attracting little attention until it was featured on a series of popular Danish podcasts. After the public started asking for answers the Danish state and Naalakkersuisut, the Greenlandic government, began a joint investigation earlier this year. Sophie Løhde, the Denmark minister of health and interior, has said she is deeply affected by this story and awaits the results of the investigation.

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