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Sweden mulls legalizing surrogate motherhood

13 Mar 2012, 16:38

Published: 13 Mar 2012 16:38 GMT+01:00

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The Riksdag's Committee on Social Affairs voted by a wide majority on Tuesday to authorize the government to carry out an inquiry into surrogate motherhood.

Currently, surrogate motherhood is outlawed in Sweden.

However, the Christian Democrats and the Left Party both opposed the measure.

"The issue of childlessness shouldn't be solved by having women's bodies used to carry and give birth to children for other people. Women's bodies aren't a commodity," the Left Party's Eva Olofsson told the TT news agency.

Even if surrogate motherhood is allowed on a non-commercial basis, there is nevertheless a risk for a black market trade in surrogate births, argued Olofsson.

She said that legalizing surrogate motherhood would send a signal that would increase acceptance of the practice that would open the door to trade with surrogate mothers in other countries, citing India as an example.

"It's possible that we need more regulations that would make it so that it's not allowed in Sweden to buy a child that has been born this way in India. But that's not how the proposal looks," said Olofsson.

In voicing his opposition to the measure, Christian Democrat head and social affairs minister Göran Hägglund emphasized concerns that women could become victims.

"We believe there are obvious risks for socially and economically vulnerable women to become victims in this trade," he said.

Hägglund also pointed to concerns that potential parents or surrogate mothers might change their minds in the process, which could result in difficult conflicts that would have a negative impact on the child.

He also commented on the fact that opposition to looking at legalizing surrogate motherhood came from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

"From totally different perspectives, we've arrived at the same conclusion," Hägglund said.

He also thought Sweden's other political parties were treating the matter too lightly.

Supporters of the measure pointed out, however, that the inquiry will be open-ended and not an indication of any particular stance regarding whether the ban on surrogate motherhood should be lifted.

"It's not decided in advance where things will end up, but rather is about a number of questions that will be examined. I have yet to take a position," said Barbro Westerholm of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet).

Among other things, the inquiry will look into the legal framework required for surrogate motherhood.

"A yes to allowing surrogate motherhood is a totally different question. That's something that won't be relevant until a later stage," said Social Democrat MP Lena Hallengren.

Committee chair Kenneth Johansson of the Centre Party was taken aback by the Christian Democrats' opposition to the inquiry.

"It's surprising that the Christian Democrats don't want to increase understanding [of the issue]," he said.

Story continues below…

Tuesday's vote comes just two weeks after the committee approved proposed changes that would allow single women to have access to artificial insemination treatments despite Christian Democrat opposition.

However Johansson doesn't think the divergent opinions of the Christian Democrats and the other parties in the centre-right Alliance government on the issues will affect the working of the government.

"These are issues that we've long known we're not in agreement about. Now we'll settle it in the Riksdag," he said.

TT/The Local/dl


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Your comments about this article

17:12 March 13, 2012 by gpafledthis
How very SCARY !! Swedes mulling !! Do what every smart swede does-ASK a Finn !!
19:50 March 13, 2012 by Abe L
I fail to see how it's the government's business to make these decisions. There are a lot of people who can't get children themselves for whom this is the only way. And just because it's officially not allowed in Sweden doesn't mean it doesn't happen or that people don't go abroad for it.
23:05 March 13, 2012 by johan rebel
Whose tummy is that in the picture Police "professor" Leif GW Persson's?
07:01 March 14, 2012 by Decedo
Totally agree Abe L., but does the Swedish government have their finger in everything here. I used to think Canada was bad for government meddling, but this place is ridiculous
16:48 March 17, 2012 by Evander
Why is it that "protecting" women's bodies always means taking the rite of choice away from women? If you want to protect women, you should give women the power to protect themselves, not force them to rely on other peoples decisions for their bodies! And since when does outlawing something make black market trade less of a risk? It doesn't work with prostetution, drugs, abortion, or human trafficking, why would it work with surrogates?
05:41 March 21, 2012 by CriticalDragon1177
I had no idea until I read this, that surrogate motherhood was ever illegal in Sweden. I guess this just shows that as an American who didn't read much as far as foreign news, until recently, there's a lot I still don't know.
15:50 March 22, 2012 by Baned
Well said, Evander!
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