Philadelphia City Officials Accused of Pressuring Foster Teen to Get Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 3, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Philadelphia City Officials Accused of Pressuring Foster Teen to Get Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 3
, 2010

Philadelphia, PA ( — A case worker form the Philadelphia Department of Human Services stands accused of pressuring a teenager to get a late-term abortion. The foster mother of the teen involved claims that not only did the DHS official push for the abortion, but threatened to take away the teen mother’s child if she didn’t get one.

DHS officials deny the allegations and tell the Philadelphia Daily News there was a misunderstanding because of language constraints.

The girls’ social worker, Marisol Rivera, learned the teen was 22 weeks pregnant and the newspaper indicates DHS obtained a Family Court judge’s order allowing it to take the girl for an abortion after the girl’s birth mother refused to allow it.

By the time DHS officials got the order, the teenager was 24 weeks along and had to get the abortion in neighboring New Jersey because that is after the cutoff for abortions in Pennsylvania.

The abortion center initially refused to do the abortion because the teen was not accompanied by a DHS official, wouldn’t accept her Medicaid card and wanted payment in cash. A DHS official took the teenager for an abortion again to the same facility, where the abortion was done without incident, the Daily News indicates.

Rivera says that, after the abortion, the firm Concilio, which subcontracts with DHS to provide social services, fired her because she refused to accompany the teen for the abortion.

"They hired me to work in child protection, not to kill children," Rivera told the Daily News.

The DHS worker, Cynthia Brown, and DHS officials reportedly say the allegations are false and explained that the girl’s mother, who speaks only Spanish, did not understand the situation and signed off on the abortion. They say the girl was not coerced or pressured into having the abortion.

But that’s not what the unnamed foster mother says.

The foster mother told the newspaper the teen was excited to learn the baby was a boy and had told her other child to expect a younger brother and to help her think of a name for the infant.

"She said that if she decided to have the infant she wasn’t going to let her have both babies, that I know [despite the language barrier]," the foster mother said. "They wouldn’t be together."

The teen’s birth mother told the newspaper that her daughter was happy following an ultrasound and then found out shortly thereafter that her daughter was taken for the abortion.

"Someone who went to go get an ultrasound, [found] out it’s a boy, they give the boy a name, that’s somebody who wants to have that baby," Deborah M. said. "But the next thing I know, she’s going for the abortion."

Donald F. Schwarz, the city’s deputy mayor for Health and Opportunity, told the newspaper that the city agency is supposed to remain neutral and not counsel either for or against an abortion.

However, of the 335 minors under DHS care who became pregnancy since March 2006, 119 had abortions and 54 had them as a result of a judge’s order allowing DHS to intervene.

He also claimed to the newspaper that federal and state dollars are not used illegally to pay for the abortions, but rather money from the city budget.

Conservative writer Ed Morrissey of Hot Air said "it may surprise Philadelphia residents that they’re paying officials to procure abortions for teenagers — especially abortions that are illegal in the state of Pennsylvania."

ACTION: Send your complaints to the Philadelphia city council at

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