Many Greenlander women as young and old as 12 had a contraceptive device inseminated in their wombs during a Danish campaign to reduce Greenland’s Inuit population.
The Danish government has ordered an independent investigation into the “Coil Campaign”.
But the BBC has collected accounts from women about involuntary contraception. This is despite growing calls for further investigation.
Bebiane was 21 years of age when she sought a coil to be fitted. She was shocked to learn that the coil was already in her body.
“I still feel the tears running down my cheeks. I told them I couldn’t believe I had a coil inside me. How could that be?
Bebiane believes that she was 16 when she had an unplanned pregnancy. This was in the early 2000s.
Over the next four decades, she was plagued by severe abdominal pains that left her unable and unwilling to climb stairs.
“I had so many visits to the hospital and they couldn’t find out what was wrong with [my pain]… It started when I had my period but also when I didn’t.
She was desperate to become pregnant, but after more than one year she still hadn’t conceived.
Bebiane told me that every time she got her period, she would cry.
She decided to give up on trying for a few more months and to have a coil placed. Friends had incorrectly told her that this would improve her fertility.
She discovered that the right one was already in her possession.
She had the loan taken out and she abandoned her plans to find a new one. She fell pregnant in a matter of months.
Mira, not her real name, has a more recent experience. Mira discovered in 2019 that she had a coil implanted by a doctor during a medical examination.
“I was so shocked,” she said.
Mira believes the only instance when it could have been done without her knowledge was during minor uterine surgeries she had in 2018.
After the surgery, she experienced intense pain for over a year. She claims that this pain was not something her doctor addressed until she had a complete check-up and discovered the coil.
Mira, now 45-years-old, said that her doctor had told her that the coil had punctured the uterus.
After suffering from medical complications she believed were caused due to the coil, she decided to have her entire uterus removed.
However, she claims the operation was not a success and she cannot have sexual contact anymore as it causes more bleeding.
The coil isn’t all that was used to contraceptively in Greenland, it appears.
Annita [not her real identity] experienced a “limp” sensation in her arm after she had an abortion in 2011. She noticed that it was covered with a bandage. It was a contraceptive implant, which is a small, flexible, plastic rod that is placed underneath the skin of the upper arms.
Annita, now 31, claims that the doctor explained that she had placed the implant because it was her fourth pregnancy.
She says, “It wasn’t fair… he really crossed the line.” “I felt violated.”
She demanded that he remove it. Only when she began to pull off the bandage, and threatened to take out the implant, did the doctor agree to remove it.
Twenty-eight-year-old Saara, whose name we’ve also changed, says she, too, regained consciousness after an operation to make a shocking discovery.
It was 2014 and she had just been given general anesthesia following a miscarriage. She woke up to find that a Danish nurse had administered the contraceptive Depo Provera.
“I was unsure what it was and she did not ask me if she wanted it.” She tells me that she is not sure what it was. She also says she doesn’t think I’d like it. “Just that I should go back to the hospital to get it every three month.”
She claims that the nurse never gave her the name or description of the drug. After she finally found out the drug’s name, she was able to search online for more information.
Saara tried to keep using the drug for a few more years. However, she claims that it took her many years to fall pregnant after she quit taking it.
She claimed that she wasn’t told Depo Provera could impact her menstrual cycles for up to 12 months after her last injection.
Greenland, Denmark, and Denmark reached an agreement in September to begin a two year investigation. It will examine what happened up to 1991, when Greenland took over Denmark’s health system.