Women demonstrate for equality and the right to free abortion in Los Angeles, USA. Photo: Larissa Puro

Chronicle

The abortion issue is a constant struggle

All political issues follow the times. One issue that has definitely done so is the right to free abortion - sometimes controversial, sometimes forgotten and taken for granted. The scope of the issue in the debate varies greatly, especially in the high-income countries where free abortion is part of the legislation.

Once the issue of abortion is put on the agenda, it still stirs up a lot of emotions and engages many. In the intervening periods, there is a risk that opposition to free abortion will go under the radar and normalize, until one day we wake up and realize that the right to abortion is once again threatened by a sudden political reform. 

In 2017, Donald Trump provoked strong reactions when he signed under da presidential order that was about limiting the ability of foreign organizations to disseminate information and knowledge about abortion. Bthe fire of a signing Trump, surrounded by men only, spread on social media with the text "Men make decisions about women's bodies." The symbolism in that image was and remains frightening: no women are present when deciding on an issue that has to do with women's bodies.

During the same year, the abortion issue was big in Sweden - in a context where a woman on the contrary had the main role. Midwife Ellinor Grimmark claimed that she had the right to freedom of conscience and refused to have an abortion. It made headlines. Through a ruling in the Labor Court, however, it was clear that the midwife's freedom to abstain would not take precedence over other women's freedom to choose to have an abortion. 

In the spring of 2019, the abortion issue once again aroused strong feelings. This time because the Senate in the state of Alabama in the United States voted in favor of a total ban on abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. The contrast between the strong voices that were heard then, and the silence that echoes around the issue now is strong.

The issue of abortion as an obvious right for everyone goes in periods. It explodes in the political debate as soon as it disappears again. Other political issues take their place, for obvious reasons. Still, we must not take the right to free abortion for granted. The issue requires continuous work and commitment, because it is when we see free abortion as an obvious part of the development in high-income countries that we are suddenly taken by surprise by a big step back. 

This is a chronicle. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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