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Compulsory Sterilisation in Sweden

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In the Fall of 1997 the leading Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, created a media hype over the Swedish policy of compulsory sterilisation that had been in operation between 1935 and 1975. In the discussion that followed the moral condemnation of our medical past was unanimous. However, the reasons for rejecting what had gone on were varied and mutually inconsistent. Three strands of criticism were common: the argument from autonomy, the argument from caution, and the argument from biological scepticism. In the paper it is argued that what point of departure you choose in your criticism of the past should be of consequence also for your ideas about present and future medical practice. In particular, if you rely on the argument from autonomy, you should be prepared to accept a liberal (present and future) use of reproductive techniques.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Gothenburg University

Publication date: 1998-07-01

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