The Danish government is poised to ban hymenoplasty, that is the reconstruction of the so-called virgin hymen, or replacing it with an artificial counterpart, the news outlet Den Korte Avis reported.
Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby, a keen sponsor of the ban, by her own admission, seeks to dispel the myth that women should bleed the first time they engange in intercourse, perpetuated in the most reactionary and traditionalist part of the population.
"The hymen as something that breaks the first time you have sex is a myth. It does not exist but has been basically used to suppress women for centuries", Nørby said, when presenting the bill.
Denmark currently has several clinics throughout the country that offer this kind of treatment. A spike in fake hymen sales has also been reported in recent years. Nørby argued that this procedure cannot be equated with, for instance, breast augmentation, despite the fact that it most often lacks medical purposes as well.
To counter this practice, the bill proposes fines starting from DKK 10,000 (over $1,500).
The Danish Nurses Organisation (DSR), which was founded in the late 1800s and comprises over 75,000 members, supported the bill, arguing that reconstructive surgery helps perpetuate the myth about the hymen's rupture during the first intercourse. Furthermore, DSR stressed the "unnecessary risk and costs" associated with the surgery.
The Danish Association of Midwives also backed the bill whole-heartedly.
"The entire mindset and the myth surrounding the hymen is an expression of an oppressive and extremely outdated view of women, which shouldn't be supported by healthcare professionals", the organisation said.
On the other hand, the Danish Society for Public Health called hymen re-construction a "small surgical procedure". If performed by medical professionals, it involves a "very low risk of complications". Therefore, there is no reason for a ban, it argued.
The Danish Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology (DSOG) is opposed to the ban as well. According to DSOG, there are women at risk of being killed if it transpires that they had sex before marriage or were subjected to abuse. The phenomenon of honour-related oppression is commonly linked to collectivist and traditionalist mindsets such as hardline Islam, whose stance across Scandinavia is increasing in lockstep with mass immigration from the Middle East and parts of Africa.
According to DSOG, the ban will force the at-risk women to seek solutions outside the health service.
"In Muslim communities, women may even be killed if someone believes they have violated the borders of autonomy by making sexual choices. A doctor can, of course, be faced with a dilemma if an immigrant family demands proof of their daughter's virginity and would not accept a scientific explanation that this phenomenon in fact doesn't exist", columnist Kirsten Damgaard wrote, claiming that re-constructing fictitious body parts on women is tantamount to attaching female breasts to men.
If Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby has her way, the ban will enter into force on 1 July 2019.