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CALUMET . intercultural law and humanities review
ISSN 2465-0145 (on-line)
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Abortion Inside Swedish Democracy: Paradoxical Secularizations and Unbalanced Pluralisms
Vazquez M.
Sweden has been widely recognized as one of the most modern and progressive European democracies. Swedes themselves often claim they are more democratic, progressive, and intrinsically more “freedom-loving” than other nations. The case of Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who has been denied the possibility to conscientiously object to performing abortions as part of her professional duties despite laws in place that support this right, begs the question: why? At the other end of the spectrum is the situation regarding conscientious objection and abortion in Italy, where mass objections on the part of medical staff are creating a serious threat to the right to obtain an abortion, despite laws in place to protect this right. This paper will not take a political position on the issue, but rather argue that both the censure of Ellinor Grimmark and the mass objection of medical staff in Italy may be examples of an uncovering of particular cultural principles, or “hidden rules of behavior,” that underlie the fabric of these two democracies in direct contradiction with their public declarations and conceptions. The ossification of key concepts at the heart of these conflicts contribute to a blindness that blocks out possible solutions. An exploration of the roots of secularism in Sweden will help elucidate how historically grounded internalized values with religious origins have contributed to current contradictions between public and private declarations, political correctness and underground ethics. Additional investigations will be made exploring the cognitive obstacles and possible theoretical approaches—such as intercultural translation—aimed at solutions for current struggles within pluralism, secularism and freedom.


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