Following the recent pro-abortion referendum in Ireland, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters, Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini of the Blue Reform Party has condemned its outcome in his blog.
The former leader of the right-wing Finns Party observed that the world has become "odd" if it is now necessary to find reasons to defend life. Soini also stressed that it was vital to defend the right to life during moments considered suitable and inappropriate alike.
Following the minister's post, Green Party MP Ville Niinistö found Soini's views "puzzling." He also enquired what the government's position on that matter was.
"It is incomprehensible that the Finnish Foreign Minister would lament women in Ireland receiving the right to abortion. Women's rights and gender equality are pillars of Finnish foreign policy," Niinistö tweeted.
On käsittämätöntä että Suomen ulkoministeri kirjoittaa blogin, jossa hän murehtii naisten saavan oikeuden aborttiin Irlannissa. Naisten oikeuksien ja tasa-arvon edistäminen on Suomen ulkopolitiikan perustaa.— Ville Niinistö (@VilleNiinisto) May 27, 2018
Soinin näkemykset eivät voi olla Suomen linja. Mitä muu hallitus sanoo?
To answer his question, two Finnish ministers, both representing the ruling National Coalition Party, rushed to clarify that Soini's views didn't match those of the government.
"Timo Soini's opinion is not Finland's official position on abortion," Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen responded. "During my time as development minister, I increased funding for sexual and reproductive health as well as support for reproductive rights including access to safe abortions in developing countries," he added.
Timo Soinin mielipide ei ole Suomen virallinen linja aborttiin @VilleNiinisto. Kehitysministerinä lisäsin rahoitusta seksuaali- ja lisääntymisterveyteen sekä lisääntymisoikeuksiin liittyvään tukeen ml turvallisen abortin mahdollisuudet kehitysmaissa. Linjaa jatkaa @AMVirolainen— Kai Mykkänen (@KaiMykkanen) May 28, 2018
Finland's current Development Minister Anne-Mari Virolainen agreed with his party colleague.
"In all of its interactions Finland promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights," Virolainen assured. "The right to abortion is not a matter of opinion. It is a question of human rights," she added.
Asia on juuri näin kuten Kaitsu toteaa. Suomi pitää esillä kaikissa yhteyksissä seksuaali- ja lisääntymisterveyttä ja oikeuksia. Viimeksi tiistaina kehitysministerien kokouksessa. Aborttioikeus ei ole mielipideasia. Se on ihmisoikeuskysymys.— Anne-Mari Virolainen (@AMVirolainen) May 28, 2018
Contrary to Soini, his Swedish counterpart, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström gave the thumbs up to the result of the Irish referendum.
Congratulations to the people of Ireland on their historic vote today. Women's rights are human rights.— Margot Wallström (@margotwallstrom) May 26, 2018
When confronted by journalists, Soini retorted Finland doesn't have the habit of congratulating countries on their referendum results, stressing that Helsinki didn't do it after the Brexit vote, for that matter, national broadcaster Yle reported.
Soini also stressed that he sincerely opposed all forms of "death culture," such as abortion or euthanasia. He also said that he has had the same attitude throughout his 30-year political career and has never been ashamed of his opinions.
Soini also emphasized that he never criticized the Irish vote as such because it yielded "clear" results, but stressed that he still was entitled to his own opinion that life is holy.
Soini in a devout Roman Catholic, which is a rarity in predominantly Lutheran Finland. Having led the Finns Party for several decades, he stepped down in 2017 and left to the Blue Reform, formed by fellow defectors.
Last week, a historic sixth referendum saw the repeal of Ireland's long-standing ban on abortion in a two to one win.