Author and Wisconsin midwife Ingrid Andersson writes about Sweden's approach to sex, parenting, education, and family life--a stark contrast to America's oversexed prudishness, violence, and hysterical opposition to reproductive choices.
Her son's first day at public school was a welcome contrast from their American schooling experiences:
My son’s teacher said he did not need to bring anything apart from his curious, well-rested, breakfasted self. School will supply all his school needs, including an iPad and hot meals made from scratch. His first lunch —eaten over an hour at a round wooden table, sitting on a real wooden chair, in an actual dining room filled with windows and art—is baked salmon in rich cream sauce, dilled potatoes, steamed broccoli, salad with homemade dressing, bread, butter, and organic milk, served in all-you-can-eat buffet style. The kitchen uses 30 percent organic ingredients, locally produced when possible. My seventh grader is disoriented but delighted by trusting adults and an open campus with unlocked doors. (Every morning since Sandy Hook, my son’s school in America was all locked up by the time the kids were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.)Reproductive information, birth control, and abortion are discussed openly and frankly and are accessible to anyone:
Any Swedish teen or adult can walk into one of the common health centers and talk confidentially with a counselor or midwife about any personal or social issue or need, including pregnancy. She or he probably will already have been introduced to a youth health center on a school class field trip at age twelve or thirteen.
Youth and young adult health centers in Sweden offer a limitless supply of free condoms, free testing and treatment for chlamydia and other diseases, and free emergency contraception. Pregnant minors are encouraged but not required to involve a parent. Counselors and/or psychiatrists meet with girls and are available to all women. Abortion is free or low-cost and available on-demand up to eighteen weeks of pregnancy. A dating ultrasound is required, and if the pregnancy is earlier than three months, girls and women can choose between vacuum extraction or pill-induced abortion and to complete the abortion at home.
Abortions are performed up to twenty-two weeks of pregnancy, but after eighteen weeks there must be a medical indication and a psychiatrist is involved. All girls and women are encouraged to include support persons. Midwives, who are prescribing professionals associated with health and wellness, support all girls and women through normal pregnancy and birth, as well as contraception and abortion choices.
Records from ancient times to the present day indicate that women tend to prefer coping with unwanted pregnancy privately and using measures within their control, or within a circle of trusted family or friends. Preference for autonomy and privacy is evidenced even when clinic-mediated options are accessible. Thanks in part to research at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, home abortion is now predictably safe and effective. For women from Stockholm to Nairobi, it has become a first-choice abortion method.
America stands as an exception. For American women, politically driven drug restrictions, costs, and lack of funding for education and support make obstacles to home abortion formidable....
“Publicly protesting abortion or anything related would be seen as hysterical in Sweden, not even the Christian party would do that!” says Ella, a twenty-eight-year-old hospital gynecology nurse who plans to continue studies to become a midwife.
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