A statement by the Swedish Medical Society issued in Stockholm last week says: "Neither ethical, religious, nor secular humanitarian reasons can be given against the use of live foetuses in research." It was issued to counter parliamentary moves to restrict experiments On live foetuses.
The statement continues: "On the contrary, such research should be supported, as it is a prerequisite of the discovering, preventing, and treating of various states of illness."
The author is Professor Gustav Giertz, president of the society's Commission on Medical Ethics.
The Swedish Parliament will discuss and decide the question during the autumn. A Conservative member of Parliament, Mr Nils Carlsharnre, and Mrs Kerstin Aner, a Liberal, proposed motions on the subject last spring.
Mr Carlshamre said in his motion: "According to the new abortion law that was passed recently, abortion can be made
practically unrestrictedly until the 18th week. That is far too late."
According to Professor Giertz, Mr Carlshamre and Mrs Aner insinuated in their motions that doctors deliberately delayed abortions in order to get more fully developed foetuses for their research.
In an article in the Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet, a young army research scientist named Eskil Block goes further than Mr Carlshamre.
He reported: "In our country abortions have been performed on foetuses 28 and even 31 weeks old — foetuses able to squall. kick about, and to pass water.
"The new abortion law may not entirely forbid such Operations, and at the same time practically all obstacles have been removed until the 18th week."
Dr Block also said: "It is nowadays well known that well developed newly aborted foetuses in Sweden and Finland for many years have been used For advanced experiments. ln the United States, this has been forbidden. "Nevertheless American scientists are granted scolarships to make the prohibited experiments on Swedish and Finnish foetuses. There are even experiments on adults with grave diseases, persons with non-functioning brains and in some cases idiots (for example ophthalmic operations in Spain)."
In their 1971 pastoral letter, "Abortion and Christian Responsibility," the Catholic Bishops of Scandinavia said: "Legislators should know their responsibility, so that the law through its generally liberalising effect does not promote a tendency, already observable in the public's ethical ideas, namely an increasing indifference to the unbohn human's right to life.
"ft is the unquestionable duty of the State to protect human life. The State has a special responsibility toward a life somehow being threatened or unable to take care of itself, such as aged or disabled persons, (he mentally retarded or deficient, the sick or the unborn."