SWEDEN – The midwife case and conscientious objection: new ways of framing abortion in Sweden

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The midwife case and conscientious objection: new ways of framing abortion in Sweden

by Rebecca Selberg

International Feminist Journal of Politics 2019  DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2019.1608841 (Open access)

Abstract

By examining the arguments presented in courts and in print media to support and oppose the introduction of conscientious objection for healthcare workers in Sweden, this article illustrates the ways in which interest groups may take advantage of expanding opportunity structures in the wake of internationalization, all the while framing their arguments in ways that create resonance with national and nationalist discourses. Focusing on the case of a midwife who sued a county for refusing to hire her after having learned she would not participate in abortions, the article analyzes how both anti- and pro-abortion groups frame the issue of conscientious objection as aligned with “Swedish exceptionalism” in terms of worker co-determination and adherence to international conventions. The article thus strengthens the feminist contention that the issue of abortion, regardless of how precisely it is framed, tends to mobilize nationalist discourses, but also highlights how anti-abortion movements can “think global, act local.”

PHOTO: California USA rally, May 2019, by Rich Pedroncelli/AP