“Give abortion rights to illegal immigrants”

A law that forbids authorities in Sweden from giving abortions to illegal immigrants has been criticized, after it was revealed that a local health authority in the south of the country had been flouting the regulations.

Swedish law mandates that citizens and women seeking asylum are entitled to free abortions. Now a Swedish politican wants to extend the law to cover illegal immigrants as well, following revelations that such abortions have been secretly performed in the southern region of Jönköping.

Social democratic parliamentarian Carina Hägg has started a media campaign discussing the illegal abortions: not to put a stop to them, but to extend the law to grant abortions to women living temporarily in Sweden.

“The law that we think gives all women the right to free abortions is not complete because it excludes immigrant women. This is not the situation for health care in other categories. In those cases, the local governments make separate decisions,” says Hägg to the media.

Hägg says she interviewed health workers in Jönköping who admitted to providing the abortions but they refused to go public.

Jönköping’s local government is taking a “hands-off” stance. Personnel director Mats Hoppe, responsible for the health care employees, says: “Perhaps this could be called civil disobedience.

“People are doing what they think is right ethically. I can understand that in a sense. Personally, I don’t see this as a major problem, if it’s not a case for police and prosecutors,” he says to DN.

But Hoppe says it is a good idea to have the discussion about the difference between what health care professionals versus what lawmakers think is ethically right.

The Swedish abortion law, enacted in 1975, was limited so as to prevent a flood of women from other countries coming here simply to have free abortions.