Reproductive rights and the future of men

29 min

As single women get the right to access fertility treatment in Sweden, what does it mean for the future of families - and of men?

Being single is no longer an obstacle to forming a family. Starting April, single Swedish women will be able to access state-funded fertility treatments on the same terms as heterosexual and same-sex couples. That's thanks to a legal amendment that was passed by parliament earlier this month. So women can now become single mothers with a little help from the public-health system.

But there's already a shortage in sperm, with too few men stepping forward to meet the demands of couples who need help getting pregnant. With at least 2,000 singles expected to seek fertility treatment in the next year, clinics are trying to recruit new donors. Radio Sweden has visited one of those clinics, run by associate professor Kjell Wånggren.

But what are the incentives to donating sperm anyway? And if women no longer need partners to get pregnant, does that mean men are obsolete? Historian Lars Trägårdh puts the whole issue of single parenthood in perspective - and considers what it might mean for men in the future.

We also speak to members of two of the organisations that have been at the forefront of the fight to extend fertility treatments to singles: the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) and Femmis, a network for single-mums-by-choice. They describe the move as "a victory for single women" and as an important signal that society is beginning to accept all kinds of families.

Not everyone agrees, though. We hear a dissenting view, from Emma Henriksson, deputy leader of the Christian Democrat Party, which opposed the new law, arguing it goes against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Producer: Nathalie Rothschild

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