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Adam Taylor |
Sweden may well have among the most accepting views of abortion in the world — one recent poll found that 84 percent of the country supports a woman’s right to have an abortion whenever she wants one. Yet a proposal from a Swedish group to offer men the right to a “legal abortion” of an unborn child has not been met with enthusiasm.
The idea, proposed by a regional branch of the youth wing of the centrist Liberal Party, would allow a potential father to legally abdicate his responsibility toward the child up to the 18th week of a woman’s pregnancy. The man would lose any rights to visit the child but also would not pay any child support he may otherwise be required to contribute.
Marcus Nilsen, chairman of Liberal Youth of Sweden (LUF) West, told the newspaper Aftonbladet that the idea had actually come from a group of women inside his party. “It is important to discuss the role of men in pregnancy,” Nilsen explained, adding that the proposed system would make it clear when men are legally required to play a role in their child’s life and when they are not.
“It is important that men are honest with their intentions,” he said. “With this proposal, there is a clear legal decision.”
The proposal has sparked a debate within Sweden, with some sticking up for the plan and others denouncing it. On Twitter, some Swedes referred to the idea as “madness” and “disgusting” and described the Liberal Party as an April Fools’ joke. Even the party’s central office was unimpressed with the idea. “We think that the current legislation is good as it is,” Eric Aronsson, press officer for the Liberals, told the website Nyheter24.
Johanna Franden, an international football correspondent for Aftonbladet who is based in Paris, was one of the rare voices of support for the idea, explaining on Twitter that she thought it made sense.
Speaking to the Local, Nilsen acknowledged that the plan had not met with much support — one man had even suggested that all members of the Liberal Party be lined up against a wall and shot, he said. The plan would thus not go any further, Nilsen admitted. “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 told the Local. “We have other issues we’re prioritizing, such as housing and employment.”
The Liberal Party is a relatively mainstream member of Swedish politics, forming part of the center-right coalition government between 2006 and 2014. However, some of the recent actions of its youth wing have raised eyebrows. Last month, the LUF’s Stockholm branch proposed laws that would have allowed incest and necrophilia in certain circumstances. “These laws protect no one right now,” Cecilia Johnsson, president of LUF Stockholm, told Aftonbladet.
That idea prompted a rebuke from Carl B. Hamilton, a former Liberal Party politician, who took to Facebook to deem LUF members “idiots” who wanted to allow “sex with hippos.”