A Danish politician has said she was told her baby was “not welcome” in Parliament, after she brought her five-month-old daughter into the chamber because she was unable to organize alternative childcare.
Writing on Facebook, Mette Abildgaard, group leader of the Conservative People’s Party, said she was told by Parliament Speaker Pia Kjaersgaard: “You are not welcome with your child in the parliamentary hall.”
Abildgaard left her daughter with a parliamentary officer in order to vote.
She said she had never brought her daughter, Esther Marie, into the chamber before, but decided to on Tuesday after discovering directly before the parliamentary meeting that she was required to vote. Her husband was unable to look after her daughter, she wrote.
The baby “was in a good mood and had a pacifier in her mouth,” Abildgaard said, though she had arranged to pass her to her secretary if she made any noise. “Naturally I did not want to disturb the meeting,” she wrote.
The politician said she had seen a colleague bring a baby into the chamber on another occasion and therefore did not ask for permission to do the same. Abildgaard was “not aware of any written down rules” about bringing babies into the chamber, she wrote.
A spokesman for the Danish Parliament told CNN: “The rules of procedure concerning meetings in the Parliament chamber do not say anything in particular about infants being banned. However, the rules instruct the chairman to uphold order and a dignified conduct. Furthermore, it says on the door to the chamber that only members are allowed inside.”
Though Abildgaard was entitled to a year’s paid maternity leave, she said she had decided to return to work in order to “go back to serving democracy.”
Kjaersgaard, the former leader of the far-right Danish People’s Party, wrote on Twitter, “I quietly asked the parliamentary secretary to tell Abildgaard that it is not good to have babies in the parliamentary hall. I was not personally in touch as I was in the speaker’s chair.”
“Small issues become magnified these days,” Kjaersgaard added.
In August 2018, German Green Party politician Madeleine Henfling was prevented from voting in a state parliament because she was holding her baby.
The following September, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made history when she brought her infant daughter into the United Nations assembly hall.