Abortion is legal in Sweden on a wide variety of grounds. To save the life of the woman? Yes. To preserve physical health? Yes. To preserve mental health? Yes. If a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest? Yes. If there is risk of foetal impairment? Yes. If a woman claims economic or social reasons? Yes. And if a woman simply requests one? Yes.
Yes – Sweden is very liberated when it comes to abortion but a recent proposal put forward by a Swedish group to offer men the right to a "legal abortion" of an unborn child has given birth to a swell of controversy.
The country’s Liberal Party youth wing in Western Sweden (LUF Väst) says men who don’t want to become fathers should be permitted to have a “legal abortion” up to the 18th week of a woman’s pregnancy.
By signing up for a “legal abortion” before the 18th week – incidentally the cut-off for which a woman can terminate a pregnancy in Sweden – any potential father would relinquish his responsibility over the child so not only would he not have to pay child support but he would also forfeit his right to meet the child or engage in any custody disputes.
The group believes “legal abortion” is actually a feminist proposal and promotes an equality between men and women during the decision making process early in a pregnancy.
Marcus Nilsen, chairman of Liberal Youth of Sweden West claim the idea of “legal abortion” had actually come from a group of women inside his party.
"It is important to discuss the role of men in pregnancy," Nilsen told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
“There are endless examples of men who can’t even say whether they want to be involved in parenthood or how involved they want to be,” Nilsen said.
Adding: “It is important that men remain honest with themselves and their intentions. We see our proposal as a clear legal decision,” meaning pregnant women would know right from the beginning if a man wants to be excluded from parenthood.
However they has been an outpouring of criticism about the plan. Some have labelled it “madness” and pointed out that there will never be equality with pregnancy until men a just as physically disadvantaged as women though the process.
As journalist Kerri Sackville wrote:
It would be lovely if there could be equality for the sexes when it comes to pregnancy. And when men are equally capable of carrying a pregnancy there will be. But sadly, at present only women can carry a baby. And so to compare the signing of a legal document (aka ‘male abortion’) to an actual real, physical termination of pregnancy isn’t just insulting, it’s utterly ridiculous.
A female abortion (aka a ‘real, actual abortion’) isn’t a legal decision. A pregnant woman who doesn’t wish to be pregnant can’t just make her pregnancy disappear by signing a form.
Even the party's central office was disapproving of the idea.
“We think that the current legislation is good as it is," Eric Aronsson, press officer for the Liberals, told the website Nyheter24.
LUF is no stranger to contentious propositions.
In February LUF out forward a motion to make incest legal as long as it was between two consenting siblings aged over 15.
The president for LUF Stockholm, Cecilia Johnsson, told Aftonbladet, “I understand that [incest] can be considered unusual and disgusting, but the law cannot legislate for this.”
The group also advocated for the legalisation of necrophilia, or sexual acts with a dead body, as long as consent was given while the person was alive.
Ms Johnsson said: “You should get to decide what happens to your body after you die, and if it happens to be that someone wants to bequeath their body to a museum or for research, or if they want to bequeath to someone for sex, then it should be okay.”
The central branch of the Liberal Party was furious with the motion. Spokesman Adam Alfredsson told local media his party was not going to endorse such ridiculous motions.
And a former Liberal Party politician, Carl B. Hamilton, took to Facebook to brand the youngsters “nitwits” and questioned if “sex with hippos” would be next on the agenda.
Nilsen reportedly told The Local that the group doesn’t plan on taking the plan any further.
“It’s something we thought was worthy of debate but the reactions have been overwhelmingly conservative, with a lot of people viewing it as an attack on the nuclear family,” he said.
“We have other issues we're prioritising such as housing and employment.”
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