Compulsory sterilisation in Sweden

Compulsory sterilisation in Sweden were sterilisations which were carried out in Sweden, without a valid consent of the subject, during the years 1906–1975 on eugenic, medical and social grounds. Between 1972 and 2013, sterilisation was also a condition for gender reassignment surgery.

Sources.[1][2] Chart showing the number of sterilisations reported to the central authority, the National Swedish Board of Health or the National Board of Health and Welfare, between 1935 and 1979 and the various indications for operations performed between 1941 and 1975. In order to keep a lid on sterilisations,[3] eugenicists arranged to collect detailed information. As a consequence, Swedish data is complete when it comes to legal operations since 1941. An unknown number of men were sterilised abroad or illegally in Sweden. This may have been the cause of the lower number of operations during the early 1970s.[4] When, from January 1976, permission was no longer needed, the number of sterilisations grew considerably.

Legal grounds edit

In 1922 the State Institute of Racial Biology was founded in Uppsala. In the 1930s, a law was passed that allowed mass sterilisation.[5] The stated rationale behind the legislation was to prevent sterilisation from becoming a contraceptive method in the hands of the individual.[3][6]

Another law, passed in 1941, was more far reaching and stated three broad grounds on which sterilisation could be carried out:[7]

  • Medical, if a pregnancy could pose a risk to life or good health of a woman with chronic illness or permanently weakened constitution.
  • Eugenic, which allowed sterilising people considered insane or with severe illness or with a physical disability, so that these traits are not passed on the offspring.
  • Social, which allowed sterilising people deemed unsuitable to foster a child due to mental illness, being feebleminded or having an antisocial lifestyle.

The law did not foresee any age of consent limit. However, it was never legal to physically restrain a person.[8]

Statistics edit

The number of eugenic sterilisations peaked in the 1940s; from 1946, the number of sterilisations under the 1941 legal provisions gradually decreased.[9]

In 1997, on behalf of the Swedish government, the ethnologists Mikael Eivergård and Lars-Eric Jönsson made an attempt at estimating what percentage of sterilisations were coerced. They found that a quarter of the applications were made under circumstances similar to coercion such as a condition for release from an institution and that another 9 percent were signed under pressure. In half of the cases they found no sign of coercion or pressure, but signs of the applicants' own initiative. Tydén uses these percentages to make an estimate of the number of operations under coercion. He found that 15,000 were made as a condition for release and that another 5500 to 6000 were made under other kinds of pressure, whereas 30,000 were voluntary and on the applicants' own initiative.[10]

According to a 2000 government report, 21,000 people were estimated to have been forcibly sterilised, 6,000 were coerced into a "voluntary" sterilisation while the nature of a further 4,000 cases could not be determined.[11]

From the 2000s, the Swedish state paid out damages to victims who filed for compensation.[12]

Sterilisation during sex change edit

Until 2013, sterilisation was mandatory before sex change.[13] This last mandatory sterilisation has been criticised by several political parties in Sweden and since 2011 the Parliament of Sweden was expected to change the law but ran into opposition from the Christian Democrat party. After efforts to overturn the law failed in parliament, the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal overturned the law on 19 December 2012, declaring it unconstitutional[14][15] after the law was challenged by an unidentified plaintiff.

22 May 2013 vote in the Parliament of Sweden[16]
Party Votes for Votes against Abstained Absent (Did not vote)
  Swedish Social Democratic Party
- -
 G  Moderate Party
- -
  Green Party - -
 G  Liberal People's Party - -
 G  Centre Party - -
  Sweden Democrats - - -
  Left Party - -
 G  Christian Democrats -
Total 298 20 4 27

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Tydén, Mattias (2002). Från politik till praktik: de svenska steriliseringslagarna 1935–1975. Stockholm studies in history, 0491-0842 ; 63 (in Swedish) (2., utvidgade uppl. ed.). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International. ISBN 91-22-01958-8.
  2. ^ Allmän hälso- och sjukvård [Elektronisk resurs] (in Swedish). Stockholm. 1913–1982.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ a b Nationalencyklopedin. "Den svenska steriliseringspolitiken – Uppslagsverk –". Retrieved 2018-02-27. Ett viktigt motiv för att inte släppa steriliseringen fri var att den då skulle kunna användas för privat barnbegränsning.
  4. ^ 1997 års steriliseringsutredning (2000), Steriliseringsfrågan i Sverige 1935–1975 [Elektronisk resurs] : historisk belysning, kartläggning, intervjuer : slutbetänkande, Statens offentliga utredningar, 0375-250X ; 2000:20 (in Swedish), Stockholm: Fritzes offentliga publikationer, p. 156{{citation}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Maria Björkman, Sven Widmalm (2010). "Selling eugenics: the case of Sweden". Notes & Records. 64 (4): 379–400. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2010.0009. PMID 21553636. S2CID 16786101.
  6. ^ Befolkningskommissionen; von Hofsten, Nils; Nilsson-Ehle, N. H.; Sjögren, K. G. T. (1936-10-19). SOU 1936: 46 Betänkande angående sterilisering [Elektronisk resurs]. Statens offentliga utredningar, 0375-250X ; 1936:46. Stockholm: Nord. bokh. i distr. p. 46. Det nuvarande svenska systemet måste ovillkorligen och sannolikt ganska hastigt leda till en fullständig frihet. Den som på grund av en extremt individualistisk uppfattning anser, att varje människa har rätt att fritt förfoga över sin kropp, bör fördenskull givetvis sympatisera med den nuvarande ordningen. Den, som ej betraktar sterilisering uteslutande som en privatangelägenhet utan anser, att individens intresse måste underordnas samhällets, måste däremot finna en reglering nödvändig.
  7. ^ SOU 1974:25 Fri sterilisering, "The current Sterilization Law (1941: 282) is restrictive. License is required for sterilisation and permission is granted only if certain restricted conditions of an eugenic, social or medical nature are fulfilled."
  8. ^ Tydén, Mattias (2002). Från politik till praktik. Stockholms universitet. p. 586. ISBN 9789122019589. Retrieved 2018-08-09. The Swedish laws never allowed the use of physical force. Furthermore the great majority of sterilisations were made following a personal application. Nevertheless many sterilisations took place in a context of compulsion or coercion, as it would be defined today.
  9. ^ Kurbegovic, L. (n.d.). Sweden. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from
  10. ^ Tydén, Mattias (2002). Från politik till praktik : de svenska steriliseringslagarna 1935–1975. Stockholm studies in history, 0491-0842 ; 63. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-91-22-01958-9.
  11. ^ Socialdepartementet (2000-03-01). "Steriliseringsfrågan i Sverige 1935 - 1975: Historisk belysning - Kartläggning - Intervjuer (SOU 2000:20)" (PDF) (in Swedish). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2012-02-05.
  12. ^ Riksdagsförvaltningen (1999-07-01), Lag (1999:332) om ersättning till steriliserade i vissa fall Svensk författningssamling 1999:1999:332 t.o.m. SFS 2017:46 – Riksdagen, retrieved 2018-03-02
  13. ^ Sweden keeps sex-change sterilisation law, The Local, January 12, 2012
  14. ^ Nelson, Rebecca. "Transgender People in Sweden No Longer Face Forced Sterilisation". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  15. ^ "Good News For Sweden's Transgender Residents". The Huffington Post. 2013-01-14. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  16. ^ "Upphävande av kravet på sterilisering för ändrad könstillhörighet (Socialutskottets bet 2012/13:SoU24)" (in Swedish). Sveriges Riksdag. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2020.