Norway needs your knitting needles!

Norway is by and large viewed as one of the most progressive countries in the world, but I’m ashamed to say we’ve been faltering lately. Our conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, the second female PM in Norwegian history, has proposed to amend the current abortion law. This political gambit would make it more difficult for women to get an abortion if the foetus has a serious illness. Solberg hopes that this amendment will secure the support of Kristelig Folkeparti, (the Christian People’s Party) in order to achieve a political majority. Kristelig Folkeparti, or KrF, is the only major Norwegian political party wanting to reverse the abortion law.

In her first term as PM, Solberg flirted with KrF by suggesting a law reform that would allow doctors not to refer women to abortion services if they felt it to be against their moral values. This resulted in the largest Women’s March Norway had seen in years. In 2014 10 000 people turned up in Oslo alone to protest this suggested reform, and it was withdrawn soon after. Now, four years later, thousands have once again taken to the streets to show their outrage. There were marches in 33 Norwegian towns and cities only a few weeks ago, and women were carrying signs reading “My body, my choice”, “Never again knitting needles”, a reference to when women still had to perform dangerous abortions themselves, and my personal favourite “Not this shit again, Erna?”

Norway got their current abortion law in 1976, but it came into affect a couple of years later. England, outwardly a country far more rooted in tradition than Norway, has an abortion law that allows a woman to have her pregnancy terminated up until week 24. Norwegian women, on the other hand, must face a tribunal of two doctors if they wish to have an abortion after week 12. Discussing your private life with two strangers in such a way is deeply infantilizing, and I know of Norwegian women who in the mid-seventies planned to travel across the pond if the tribunal refused them access to abortion.

Solberg and KrF argue the paragraph they wish to amend is discriminatory against people living with a serious genetic illness. This is a cunning way of masking their deeply reactionary conservatism as a righteous struggle for a more inclusive society. Yet mothers of children with genetic illnesses have spoken up and criticised Solberg for using abortion as a negotiating tool to achieve political power, and KrF for creating a discourse in which women who have an abortion are accused of contributing to a less inclusive society. “It seems like she [Solberg] cares more about the sick [children] that aren’t born yet, rather than those who are already alive and suffering today”, a mother of a child with spinal muscular atrophy recently told the newspaper Dagbladet.

Abortion is a personal matter that never should have been political in the first place. However, forcing women to have unwanted children is an effective form of social control. If women can’t have sex without consequences then we will once again be faced with a situation of deep inequality, in which men can spread their seed left and right while women are always forced to think twice. It’s a comfortable arrangement if you want full control of your woman. The deeply religious Norwegian politicians may hide behind their hypocritical dream of a more inclusive society, but considering how religions’ common denominator seems to be their obsession over women’s sexuality, this proposed amendment is easy to see through.

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May 2022
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