Church leaders threaten government over abortion

Two of Sweden's most influential church leaders have threatened to encourage Christians to vote against the government at the next election, following a proposal that foreign women should be allowed to come to Sweden for abortions.

Sweden’s Catholic bishop Anders Arborelius and leader of the evangelical Philadephia Church in Stockholm, Sten-Gunnar Hedin hinted that the Christian Democrats, traditionally supported by religious voters, could be hit hardest.

“We are sad that this proposal is backed by a Christian Democrat social affairs minister, Göran Hägglund. It is incomprehensible that he is supporting this proposal while claiming that it was required by the EU, something that this country’s leading EU law expert, Professor Ulf Bernitz, insists is not the case,” the pair wrote in Dagens Nyheter.

The two church leaders pointed to the Christian Democrats’ current low levels of support in opinion polls, with the party hovering just over the four percent level needed to get voted into the Riksdag.

“If the Christian Democrats are ejected from the Riksdag it will undoubtedly have consequences for the Alliance.”

Arborelius and Hedin write that they, together with a majority of Christian leaders in Sweden, “could be forced to work actively to reduce the chances of the Alliance being re-elected,” at the next general election in 2010.

“We appeal to the government not to force us to do this.”

The two church leaders accused their opponents of “aggression” and “self-righteousness”. They questioned whether most women would have the resources to travel to Sweden for an abortion. They said that in “abortion tourism” was in practice only an option for “those who are well off and who wish to have an abortion at all cost.”

“As Christians, we think there’s a whiff of hypocrisy when you say you want to help foreign women.”