Washington DC Police Officers Say ‘They Were Ordered To Undergo Abortions’ To Keep Jobs

Two officers with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department have come forward with allegations that department officials compelled them to undergo abortions to keep their jobs.

Chanel Dickerson is the highest-ranking black woman in the department, serving as Assistant Police Chief. She stated on Tuesday that she was told in 1988 as a cadet that she either had to terminate her pregnancy or lose her job

She said that she believes that the choice to carry her baby to term was “personal and should have been mine alone.” Dickerson also shared that although she has tried repeatedly, she has never become a mother following that abortion.

Dickerson is currently a plaintiff in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city and the police department. She is suing as part of a group of former police cadets alleging the department is liable to them for acts of abuse and retaliation.

Then on Wednesday, another officer spoke out. Karen Arikpo said that in 1997 while she was participating in the police academy, she was pressured to undergo an abortion. She said that all participants were told that they needed to get an abortion or be fired if they were currently pregnant. 

Arikpo said that she then went to her class sergeant and disclosed her pregnancy. She was then told she needed to get an abortion and was referred to an abortion doctor in Washington. Arikpo added that she initially thought she could hide her pregnancy long enough to get through the academy.

These two allegedly coerced abortions took place when Marion Barry was mayor of the city. Barry served initially between 1979 and 1991 when he was sentenced to a prison term after being caught in a sting operation using crack cocaine. After being released from prison, Barry was again elected and served as mayor between 1995 and 1999.