At least two Washington, D.C., police officers said they were told to abort their unborn babies if they wanted to keep their jobs with the Metropolitan Police Department.
D.C. Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson first revealed the “abortion ultimatum” on Tuesday night during a community meeting. Dickerson, who is one of 10 black women suing the police department for $100 million for an unrelated discrimination and harassment case, said the pressure to abort her unborn child happened when she was an 18-year-old in the MPD cadet academy in 1988.
“My choice to have a baby was personal, and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum,” Dickerson said. “I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program.”
Dickerson chose her job over following through with her pregnancy. She told The Federalist that she resigned from the department in 1991 “but returned to MPD in 1994 as a civilian employee” before becoming a sworn officer in 1997.
Another DC police officer, Karen Arikpo, also disclosed to Fox 5 D.C. that the sergeant who was in charge of her 1997 recruit class with Dickerson told her to choose between keeping her baby or keeping her job. The sergeant reportedly no longer works for the department.
“So later that day, I went and told my class sergeant that I was pregnant. And she said I needed to have an abortion and she referred me to a doctor in D.C. to get it done,” Arikpo said.
After pressure from her employer, Arikpo kept her job instead of her baby. She told Fox 5 that she regrets that choice and has struggled with fertility ever since.
“I did this for a job,” she says. “And then to want kids and can’t have them. How do you tell people that?”
Arikpo called it “unfair” and explained that even with fertility treatments, she was never able to get pregnant again.
“It’s so unfair,” she said. “And now I’ve never been able to have a kid. All these years, I’ve tried and I’ve never been able to have a baby.”
D.C. police told Fox 5 that the academy’s current policy allows pregnant recruits to delay their training as cadets until after they have their baby.
“If a recruit gets pregnant while at the academy, she will be placed in a future class upon completion of her leave. If a cadet gets pregnant, she would continue the educational piece with modified PT per guidance of a medical professional,” the statement said.
The DC Metro Life Alliance slammed the department’s alleged behavior and said a mother should never have to choose between “her career in public service or her unborn child’s life.”
“The actions by Metropolitan Police Department officials showed callous disregard for human life, brutal discrimination towards their recruits, and contempt for the Washington DC community they have sworn to protect,” the statement said. “The careers of Assistant Chief Dickerson and Officer Arikpo were not expendable, neither were the lives of their unborn children, or the lives of any child, born or unborn. When the institutions that society is built upon cast off basic respect for the intrinsic value and dignity of human life in the womb, it spreads, and soon more and more lives can come to be seen as unworthy and expendable. It is extremely alarming that such a culture exists within the MPD, and we hope that District residents join our call for sincere apologies, swift amends, and transparent remediation from the Department.”