Foreign News: SIN & SWEDEN

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abortions. Unwed Heroines. Admittedly, it is a Christian virtue to show kindness and tolerance to unwed mothers, but in Sweden they are practically heroines. Not long ago an unwed mother became a candidate for the Lucia Crown, an annual beauty award based on the legend of St. Lucia, who had her eyes gouged out for defending her chastity against a Roman centurion. When the judges questioned her qualifications and refused to let her compete, the young mother received bales of encouraging letters and the judges were roundly blasted. The sex education given in public schools would make even the most modern, broad-minded American parent blanch. At a party in Stockholm, I met Mrs. Elise Ottesen-Jensen, the 17th of 18 children of a Norwegian family, a vigorous, outspoken woman who looks years younger than she is (69). She travels all over Sweden by car, train and even on skis to run clinics, advises branch offices and lectures on birth control and sex relations. One of her proudest achievements has been the government decision to teach sex in schools, and she assiduously superintends it. I asked Mrs. Ottesen-Jensen what she teaches the young people. "I tell them that the important thing is that they must be in love," she said. "I tell the girls it is all right to sleep with a boy—but first they must be in love. When I tell them that, you see them smiling and nudging each other." "You don't advise them to wait until they get married?" I asked. Mrs. Ottesen-Jensen fixed me with a scornful eye. "Everybody knows that couples—young people when they are, how do you say it, 'going steady'—sleep together," Mrs. Ottesen-Jensen said. "Their mothers and fathers know it. What use is there of trying to change nature? So I tell them, wait until you are sure, wait until you are in love." "Let's get this straight," I said. "You tell them this in schools?" Mrs. Ottesen-Jensen laughed at my amazement. So did the other guests. One wondered if I was religious. "How," I said to Mrs. Ottesen-Jensen, "can a boy or girl of 17 or 18 know the difference between love and plain old biological urge?" "Oh, they can tell love," she said. "They can tell real love." Everyone nodded in agreement. A small, dark man who, I later learned, was a psychiatrist, tried to explain. "The only difference between our behavior here and behavior in other countries is that we face the facts," he said. "Young people sleep together everywhere. We don't frown and tell them that it is sinful and expect that that will prevent it. Since they're going to do it anyway, we try to give them training and teach them to be honest. If a girl finds she's going to have a baby, we don't ostracize her, we take care of her. Isn't it better to let her have an abortion in a hospital than go to a dirty vet, as she does in other countries?"

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