Black, female DC police officers say they were given ultimatum: Have an abortion or be fired

D.C. Police Department's twitter account

D.C.’s assistant police chief this week claimed that as an 18-year-old cadet she was told to get an abortion or she would be fired, according to reports from NBC News.

Chanel Dickerson is one of 10 women who are either current or former Black, female D.C. police officers filing a class-action lawsuit against the city’s Metropolitan Police Department with claims that they were discriminated against based on their sex and race. 

“My choice to have a baby was personal and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum,” Dickerson had said during a community meeting, as reported by NBC. 

In addition, another woman — Karen Arikpo, a D.C. police officer of 24 years — told Fox 5 D.C. that in 1997 her female sergeant told her class of police recruits the same ultimatum that Dickerson described. 

Arikpo described her dealings with the sergeant that day, “If we were pregnant we needed to get an abortion or we would be fired.”

“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,” she added.

Arikpo then explained that she had never disclosed this experience before, not even with her husband as she thought it was something she “would take to her grave,” she told Fox 5.

It was only when Arikpo heard Dickerson explain how she was faced with the same ultimatum that she decided to come forward with her own story, reports Fox 5.

According to Fox 5, Dickerson and Arikpo were in the same class of recruits back in 1997. Their allegations have been corroborated by a male officer who was also in the class. According to the officers who spoke with Fox 5, the sergeant in question is no longer with the D.C. police department. 

Arikpo has said that if she could rewind the clock she would have quit her job and gone through with her pregnancy, according to Fox 5. 

“It’s so unfair,” Arikpo 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.” 

She spoke to Fox 5 about her issues with fertility treatment and the blame she carries alongside regret and shame of how she “did this for a job.”

“Then to want kids and can’t have them. How do you tell people that?” she added.

The Hill has contacted the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for comment, but did not immediately hear back.  

Tags Abortion Anti-black racism in the United States D.C. Police Sexism Washington D.C. Washington D.C.

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