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The Nazis’ cloven hoof : Finnish critiques of legal sterilisation

Elmgren, Ainur LU (2018) p.46-60
Abstract

In 1935, a law on prescription-based sterilisation of ‘the idiot, the imbecile, and the mentally ill’ was passed by a majority in the Finnish parliament. Complementary of earlier eugenic legislation, it was considered beneficial for public health and economy, following the examples of ‘advanced’ countries such as Sweden and Germany. The cultural journal Tulenkantajat (The Fire Bearers, 1932-1939) was a rare forum for dissenting left-liberal opinion. Even though its distribution was limited, its controversial reputation ensured frequent citations in other media. Editor-in-chief Erkki Vala launched a campaign against the sterilisation law proposal in 1933. He warned that the law would inevitably target the poor in a society permeated by... (More)

In 1935, a law on prescription-based sterilisation of ‘the idiot, the imbecile, and the mentally ill’ was passed by a majority in the Finnish parliament. Complementary of earlier eugenic legislation, it was considered beneficial for public health and economy, following the examples of ‘advanced’ countries such as Sweden and Germany. The cultural journal Tulenkantajat (The Fire Bearers, 1932-1939) was a rare forum for dissenting left-liberal opinion. Even though its distribution was limited, its controversial reputation ensured frequent citations in other media. Editor-in-chief Erkki Vala launched a campaign against the sterilisation law proposal in 1933. He warned that the law would inevitably target the poor in a society permeated by class injustice. Drawing on Marxist theory and liberal humanism, Tulenkantajat promoted health care based on voluntary participation and education. Its stance on voluntary sterilisation was unclear, but it became consequently opposed to coercive sterilisation, especially after the passing of the law. Even though this campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, it is an early example of a liberal rights discourse where the protection of the rights of the individual against the state became a premise for global human rights, contradicting the hegemonic idea of the people as a single organism, the needs of which override the rights of its individual members.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
host publication
Conceptualising Public Health : Historical and Contemporary Struggles over Key Concepts - Historical and Contemporary Struggles over Key Concepts
editor
Kananen, Johannes ; Bergenheim, Sophy ; Wessel, Merle ; ; and
pages
15 pages
publisher
Routledge/ Taylor and Francis Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85047044941
ISBN
9781138036833
9781351712897
DOI
10.4324/9781315178271
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c833400a-310c-4919-8869-abc5684d8151
date added to LUP
2018-05-30 15:20:22
date last changed
2019-11-25 09:21:23
@inbook{c833400a-310c-4919-8869-abc5684d8151,
  abstract     = {<p>In 1935, a law on prescription-based sterilisation of ‘the idiot, the imbecile, and the mentally ill’ was passed by a majority in the Finnish parliament. Complementary of earlier eugenic legislation, it was considered beneficial for public health and economy, following the examples of ‘advanced’ countries such as Sweden and Germany. The cultural journal Tulenkantajat (The Fire Bearers, 1932-1939) was a rare forum for dissenting left-liberal opinion. Even though its distribution was limited, its controversial reputation ensured frequent citations in other media. Editor-in-chief Erkki Vala launched a campaign against the sterilisation law proposal in 1933. He warned that the law would inevitably target the poor in a society permeated by class injustice. Drawing on Marxist theory and liberal humanism, Tulenkantajat promoted health care based on voluntary participation and education. Its stance on voluntary sterilisation was unclear, but it became consequently opposed to coercive sterilisation, especially after the passing of the law. Even though this campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, it is an early example of a liberal rights discourse where the protection of the rights of the individual against the state became a premise for global human rights, contradicting the hegemonic idea of the people as a single organism, the needs of which override the rights of its individual members.</p>},
  author       = {Elmgren, Ainur},
  booktitle    = {Conceptualising Public Health : Historical and Contemporary Struggles over Key Concepts},
  editor       = {Kananen, Johannes and Bergenheim, Sophy and Wessel, Merle},
  isbn         = {9781138036833},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  pages        = {46--60},
  publisher    = {Routledge/ Taylor and Francis Group},
  title        = {The Nazis’ cloven hoof : Finnish critiques of legal sterilisation},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315178271},
  doi          = {10.4324/9781315178271},
  year         = {2018},
}