By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
STOCKHOLM, November 20, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Foreign women will be allowed to have abortions in Sweden up to 18 weeks gestation starting in January 2008 under changes to legislation passed by the Swedish parliament last Thursday according to a report in AFP (Agence France-Press).
The changes to the existing abortion law were passed by a very small majority: 134 in favour, 124 against, 91 abstentions.
Until now abortion in Sweden has been reserved for Swedish citizens and residents, but since most EU countries already allow foreign women access to abortion, the Swedish government has decided to follow suit. Non-resident women now have the same access to abortion as they have to other health services in the country. The only condition is that they pay for the procedure themselves.
Christian Democrat leader and Social Affairs Minister Göran Hägglund, who introduced the bill, brushed off criticism from his own party, which traditionally favours a restrictive approach to abortion. Several Christian Democrat members of parliament have warned that the new law could lead to ‘abortion tourism’.
Catholic Bishop Anders Arborelius, and evangelical leader Sten-Gunnar Hedin with the Philadephia Church in Stockholm strongly opposed the law change. In a joint statement issued earlier this year they stated, “We are sad that this proposal is backed by a Christian Democrat social affairs minister, Göran Hägglund. It is incomprehensible that he is supporting this proposal while claiming that it was required by the EU, something that this country’s leading EU law expert, Professor Ulf Bernitz, insists is not the case.”
Bishop Arborelius and Mr. Hedin stated that if forced they would work together with a majority of Christian leaders in Sweden, “to work actively to reduce the chances of the Alliance being re-elected,” at the next general election in 2010.
While traditionally supported by Christian voters, the Christian Democrat party has lost popularity in recent opinion polls and is barely hanging on to the four percent essential for a position in the Riksdag.
See previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Sweden: Church Leaders Warn Government Over “Abortion Tourism” Plan