The Danish parliamentary house speaker told lawmaker Mette Abildgaard she was not welcome in the chamber with her baby. The comment came as a surprise in a country known for women's rights.
Danish lawmaker Mette Abildgaard took to Facebook to respond to speaker Pia Kjaersgaard's request to remove her baby daughter from the parliamentary chamber.
The Facebook post had gathered 2,300 comments by Wednesday as Abildgaard explained: "I didn't ask for permission to bring her since I had previously seen another colleague bring a child into the chamber without any problems."
"I've never brought my daughter to Parliament before, and it wasn't the plan to do so today. But Jens Jacob [the father] couldn't step in this time and shortly before the session I found out I had to vote," the Conservative lawmaker wrote. She was "in a good mood and had a pacifier in her mouth."
The former leader of the far-right Danish People’s Party and current house speaker Pia Kjaersgaard apparently passed the message to Abildgaard: "You are not welcome with your baby in the parliament's chamber," via an assistant. She was then asked to remove the 5-month-old Esther Marie from the room.
When asked afterwards about the incident, Kjaersgaard told the Ritzau news agency "MPs should be in the chamber, not babies or children," adding that clear rules would be issued.
Abildgaard passed her baby to an assistant before returning to the chamber to vote.
Under Denmark's parental leave arrangements, Abildgaard was entitled to a year's maternity leave on full pay but chose to return to work early. She is a member of the Conservative party which is part of the ruling center-right coalition.
Last September, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought her three-month old daughter to the UN General Assembly in New York and played with her before giving a speech at the Nelson Mandela peace summit. Ardern's partner held the baby on his lap during her speech.