67 Greenlandic women are suing the Danish state after having IUDs inserted without consent as children. The IUDs were inserted during the 60s and 70s into girls and adult women to reduce childbirth on the island.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the number of children born in Greenland significantly increased. By 1966, the number of children born had risen by 80 percent in 15 years, leading both the Greenland Ministry and the Board of Health to decide to insert IUDs into approximately half of the 9,000 Greenlandic girls and women living on the island. An IUD is a contraceptive device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy, available in non-hormonal and hormonal versions.
All girls, some as young as 13, were informed that they would have an IUD inserted at the hospital, which was done without consent. Furthermore, it’s reported that IUDs were also inserted without knowledge into pregnant women or those who had undergone abortions at the hospital. In total, 4,500 IUDs were inserted over five years.
Now, 67 Greenlandic women are demanding compensation from the Danish state, as reported by Danish state channel DR. Naja Lyberth, who had an IUD inserted at the age of 13, believes that the so-called “IUD campaign” caused much suffering for the island’s women, with some losing their ability to have children.
– For many, it ended with the removal of the uterus, loss of the ability to have children, or suffering from other physical sequelae, she says.
The IUD used at the time was called “Lippes Loop”. It was hormone-free, significantly larger than today’s IUDs, and shaped like an S. It was known in the 60s that it wasn’t suitable for women who hadn’t given birth or for girls, yet it was still chosen.
– Still, they used this type of IUD, which caused extensive damage to many women in the form of infertility, other physical complications, and not least psychological trauma, says Lyberth.
The Danish state began an investigation into the matter in May of this year, which is expected to be completed in 2025. However, Lyberth believes that this is taking too long and that they want redress now, noting that some of the affected women are elderly and cannot wait.
– We expect the state to take us seriously and meet our demands, and if they don’t, we will meet in court, she says.
The women are suing the Danish state for 300,000 Danish crowns each.