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ABORTION

Pro-life group recruits Swedish children: report

Anti-abortionists from the youth movement "Älska livet"(literally “Love life”), the youth branch of pro-life organisation "Ja till livet" ("Yes to Life"), are recruiting children by asking them to sign a petition to get a glass of juice, according to details in a report in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

“The children had no idea that they were becoming members. It is deeply immoral to recruit members that are not aware,” said Eivor Johnsson, mother of a 13-year-old who was almost recruited by the group, to DN.

Johnsson’s son only escaped the recruiters when he phoned his mother to find out the last four digits of his personal identity number, given to all Swedish citizens at birth, which the recruiters had asked for.

When Johnsson contacted the chairperson for the movement, Emelie Litsgård, she was told “this is how we operate”. Litsgård also argued that all the children were aware that they were joining the anti-abortion movement.

“But they weren’t, I know that,” said Johnsson who told DN that she knows of at least four children who were recruited by the group.

She pointed out that as the group issues no form of proof of membership, the parents of the kids never find out and subsequently can’t do anything about it. She also questioned how much of the message a twelve-year-old could really grasp.

But according to Litsgård, the recruiters are very clear with the information to the new members. Also, the leaflet handed out is aimed at young people and is written in simple terms that everyone can understand.

“And the form says very clearly that it pertains to membership for a year,” Litsgård wrote in an email to DN.

Litsgård also told DN that very few of the group’s members are under the age of 13, as their campaign is aimed at teens between 13 and 18. And she is adamant that the recruited members are aware of what they are signing.

“We ask much more on our membership applications than the Swedish National Board of Youth Affairs (Ungdomsstyrelsen) requires, as we demand both personal identity number and signature,” Litsgård wrote to DN.

Johnsson, however, is not satisfied with this. According to the DN report, she suspects that the organisation recruits kids this way in order to get higher subsidies from the government.

Membership numbers is one of the factors that determine how large a subsidy an organisation will receive.

During 2011, “Älska livet” will receive over 1 million kronor ($153,340) in government grants and subsidies.

Litsgård later wrote an email to The Local in which she reiterated what she had earlier said to DN – that all recruitment forms show clearly that it is a year’s membership that they sign up for, that all those who have signed up are aware that they have joined. Furthermore she claimed that the group aims their campaign at children over 13 but that they won’t turn away anyone younger- which is in line with the regulations from the Swedish National Board of Youth Affairs.

She also added that the organisation is one of many that receives subsidies from the government.

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ABORTION

Swedish group wants ‘legal abortions’ for men

Men should have the same right as women to decide not be parents, according to a controversial new proposal from the Liberal Party’s youth wing in western Sweden (LUF Väst).

Swedish group wants 'legal abortions' for men
File photo: Simona Balint

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, say the young liberals. 

The cut-off date coincides with the last week in which a woman can terminate a pregnancy in Sweden. 

“This means a man would renounce the duties and rights of parenthood,” LUF Väst chairman Marcus Nilsen told The Local. 

By signing up for a “legal abortion” then, a man would not have to pay maintenance for his child, but neither would he have any right to meet the child. 

The group believes “legal abortion” for men would promote equality between the sexes in the early stages of a pregnancy, giving men a chance to opt out. Women would also benefit if they knew from the get-go whether a man was willing to commit to parenthood, the young liberals say. 

Asked how a mother would explain to a child later in life what had happened to its father, Nilsen said: 

“This situation already exists, with single women who choose to inseminate or simply don’t know who the father is.”

He added: “We wouldn’t want to make this something that was subject to secrecy. A mother could say: ‘I consider this man to be your father, but legally he is not’.” 

Some social media users have welcomed the plan but many have ridiculed it and Nilsen said the group had received a flurry of threats. 

“One man wrote on Facebook that all our members should be put against a wall and shot.”  

Johanna Frändén, a popular sports writer, was a lot more welcoming. 

“I think I’m of the view that this is actually quite sensible,” she wrote on Twitter. 

Ivar Arpi, an influential leader writer with the Svenska Dagbladet daily, disagreed. 

“No, men shouldn’t be able to have legal abortions. Men should take responsibility for their children. Period.” 

Much of the criticism accused the young Liberals of misogyny, something Nilsen was quick to reject. 

“This motion was actually put forward at our annual meeting by a group of girls,” he said. 

Nilsen added that the group was unlikely to take 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. We have other issues we're prioritizing such as housing and employment.” 

The idea comes on the heels of two proposals last month that got tongues wagging: The young Liberals’ Stockholm branch said it wanted to legalize sibling incest for over-15s and to permit “consensual” necrophilia in cases where the deceased had written post-life sex requests into a will. 

A senior member of the mother party, Carl B. Hamilton, called the youngsters idiots and wondered if “sex with hippos” would be next on the agenda.