DHS, Judges Pressure/Order Girls To Get Abortions in Philly

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted May. 3, 2010

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The Department of Human Services (DHS) has got the Philadelphia Parking Authority on the ropes for the title of “Most Hated Philly Collective,” and what the Daily News just found out could be the knock-out punch.

Long story short, DHS allegedly forced a teenager to get a late-term abortion. In New Jersey. Aborting at 24 weeks is illegal in Pennsylvania. In a Daily News story this morning, the teen is unidentified, but here are the facts:

*The girl’s birth mother refused to approve of the procedure, so DHS got a court order to allow it.
*The girl’s social worker was fired after DHS got involved in the case.
*Over the last four years, 335 minors under DHS care have become pregnant, 119 received abortions and of those, 54 were done after a Family Court judge’s order.

Besides that, there are lots of allegations being thrown around by the minor’s family and social worker. If half of them are true, this thing is pretty messed up.

According to the girl’s foster mother, her daughter was excited about having a baby (she already has a 1-year old daughter) and had named the potential child. The girl’s birth mother backs up that claim. The teen’s foster mother said the DHS worker, Cynthia Brown, told the pregnant teen that, if she refused to have an abortion, the minor would be separated from both her children.

On March 9, the DHS secured a court order for the abortion. The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia (Concilio) apparently helped DHS oversee the case, and on March 10, told the teen’s mother she had to take the girl for an abortion. She did, but when they got to the clinic, their Medicaid wasn’t accepted. On March 16, Brown took the girl out of school and brought her to a clinic in New Jersey for the procedure. And on April 15, social worker Marisol Rivera was fired from Concilio.

While this individual case may be up for debate, especially as not all the facts have come out (nor may they ever, due to medical-privacy laws), the Daily News dug up some not-so-well-known issues with DHS.

Directly from the article:

Abortions are a little-known aspect of DHS's oversight of children in its custody.

Donald F. Schwarz, the city's deputy mayor for Health and Opportunity, who oversees DHS, said that the agency "is supposed to take a neutral position and not supposed to be involved in the decision making" regarding an abortion.

Although federal and state law forbid the use of federal or state money for abortions, and DHS is a recipient of state and federal aid, that money is not used to pay for abortions, Schwarz said.

He said that money only from the city budget is used to pay for the procedures.

Art Caplan, director of the Center of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said that if the foster mother's allegations are true, the DHS worker was acting unethically.

"You can't or shouldn't be threatening to break up a family depending upon whether somebody gets an abortion or not," Caplan said. "That is . . . unethical practice, it's not even common sense."

Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said: "If DHS's behavior is as described, it is shameful and inexcusable. . . . Sadly, this is not surprising . . . . This kind of bungling, this is not unusual in child-welfare systems. Especially in Philadelphia."
 

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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. Anonymous said... on May 3, 2010 at 03:12PM

“LET'S SEE, THE GIRL IS A MINOR, NO INCOME, ON MEDICAID, IN DHS FOSTERCARE, HAS ONE CHILD SHE IS UNABLE TO SUPPORT ON HER OWN, AND SHE WANTS TO HAVE ANOTHER. NO! DHS AND THE COURTS DID THE RIGHT THING!”

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2. Anonymous said... on May 3, 2010 at 04:49PM

“So transporting minors across state lines without parental permission is perfectly acceptable as long as they are getting an abortion?
What's next...instead of taking the baby, the government decides to take your liver, or kidneys?”

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3. Anonymous said... on May 3, 2010 at 09:28PM

“Penn people weighing in on DHS??? Richard Wexler has plenty to say about DHS since they fire his a-s years ago. Can we say sour grapes? Does Art Caplan have much standing since Penn botched that study that allowed the death of a young man? So much for the ethicist.

I'd feel better if these folks would weigh in on the Penn run VA hospital cancer debacle. Let's be credible. The news stations don't want to touch this story that is riddled with falsehoods and inaccuracies.

As for Anonymous 2- no, the government doesn't want your liver or kidneys. The Gift of Life could benefit but, please, leave your brains at home.”

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4. Anonymous said... on May 7, 2010 at 01:34PM

“Regardless of who you are and what your status is in life - a life is to be cherished and valued. Is this minor's child any less important than a child of a well-to-do family? No. This mother's rights were potentially violated and the rights of her unborn son were definitely violated. This was wrong.”

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5. Ray said... on May 7, 2010 at 04:06PM

“ok we Foster two children do i have too see the mind messed with anymore DHS as from my knowledge is supposed to keep a family together not rip them out of them can i trust my Dhs agent anymore Not in my life time where was the gardian enlightment (childrens Lawyers) I have not once spoke to mine and think we should”

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6. MST said... on Sep 25, 2012 at 01:49PM

“Um -- anybody ever heard of adoption?”

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