He would have implemented, between the 1960s and 1970s, one forced contraception campaign per limit the birth rate in Greenland e save on welfare: now, more than half a century after those events, the Denmark received a request for compensation from 67 women of Inuit ethnicity born in the former Arctic colony. Each of them asked the Danish government 300 thousand crowns, the equivalent of around 40 thousand euros, threatening to sue him if he doesn’t accept. However, this is only a small part of the thousands of women who would have had it implanted contraceptive coil without consent and without receiving almost any treatment in the following years. Many of them would never have been able to have children and would have had acute pain, internal bleeding and abdominal infections for years. Some would even have undergone hysterectomy.
The Copenhagen plan, called ‘Danish coil campaign’would have succeeded in a few years halve the birth rate of the island which between the fifties and the beginning of the sixties experienced a real birth boom, until in 1970 the island’s population doubled. That boom was due to the plans of modernization of the government, who had improved the Greenlandic health system by reducing diseases and infant mortality in a period in which Greenland, a Danish territory since 1814, had just ceased to be a colony to become an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1953.
The birth control plan became public knowledge in 2017when the psychologist and activist Come on Lyberth, one of the women now seeking compensation, revealed that in 1976, when she was just 13, she was implanted with a contraceptive device after a medical examination at school. No one explained to her what that object was, no one asked for her or her parents’ consent, and the same happened with other classmates. The issue then came to the attention of Danish public opinion in 2022thanks to podcast spiral campaigns (“the spiral campaign”), produced by Danish public television and also broadcast on the radio.
Among other things, the podcast reported some documents from the national archives according to which, between 1966 and 1970, the contraceptive coil was implanted at approximately 4.500 inuitsome of which are under 12 years of age: a number more or less equivalent to half of fertile women in Greenland. The practice would then continue into the 1970s, not only in Greenland, but also in Denmark, among students in the community. And other discriminatory measures would have been added to the spiral: for example, in 1951 the government would have 22 Inuit children stolen from their families in order to conduct some sort of social experiment. The belated apology would only arrive in 2020.
After the release of the podcast, the Danish government and Naalakkersuisut, the autonomous government of Greenland, established a independent investigative commission: his task will be to delve into the contraceptive practices practiced on the island from 1960 to 1991, the year in which the Arctic territory gained control of its own healthcare system. Having started very late, the commission began its work in May 2023, while the conclusions should arrive in the spring 2025. “We don’t want to wait the results of the investigation,” said Naja Lyberth. “We are getting older: The oldest among us, who had IUDs in the 1960s, were born in the 1940s and are approaching 80. We want to act now.”