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."
May 3: DHS gets negative press for allegedly forcing a girl to get an abortion. May 4: Commissioner announces the Text4Baby campaign. Coincidence?
After some more great Daily News reporting, DHS is in hot water.