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Reproductive justice for the haunted Nordic welfare state: Race, racism, and queer bioethics in Finland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mwenza BlellORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The Nordic welfare state aims to offer universal healthcare and achieve good health, bar none. We discuss past and present moral blind spots in welfare state bioethics through reproductive justice and queer bioethics, particularly focusing on race and racism, based on ethnographic data from Finland. Globally portrayed as aspirational and mostly uninterrogated, it is crucial to have a thorough bioethical evaluation of a Nordic model informed by Black and queer perspectives. We have come to conceptualize the Finnish welfare state as haunted. We fear that the seemingly non-racial racial hygiene continues to haunt bioethics of the welfare state as structural racism. A key cause for this concern is the lack of racial awareness in public politics and the reluctance in discussing racism due to the national agenda of color-blindness. This crucially compounds to our findings that medical professionals prefer to think they operate on “purely medical” reasoning as opposed to nuanced ethical contemplation, the latter associated with “social issues” that allegedly cannot be resolved and are outside medical interest. We discuss how the bioethical aftermath of eugenics remains unresolved. Racist, classist, sexist, ableist, and cis- and heteronormative stratification of reproduction requires a nuanced moral compass for Nordic welfare state bioethics, not “strictly medical practice.” We suggest queer bioethics as a moral theory for recalibrating this compass, joining forces with other justice movements to tackle racism in healthcare and further to interrogate racism, sexism, ableism and cis- and heteronormativity in bioethics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sudenkaarne T, Blell M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bioethics

Year: 2022

Volume: 36

Issue: 3

Pages: 328-335

Print publication date: 11/03/2022

Online publication date: 24/11/2021

Acceptance date: 21/10/2021

Date deposited: 12/10/2023

ISSN (print): 0269-9702

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8519

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/bioe.12973


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