Timo Soni’s Abortion Comments ‘Are Not Government Policy’: Ministers

Foreign Minister compared the Ireland referendum result to a "dirty water source" and has been criticised by fellow government colleagues.

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Graphic showing voting in Ireland / Credit: iStock

Two Finnish government ministers have been forced to clarify that controversial comments by Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) are not official government policy.

On Sunday, Soini wrote a blog titled “Dirty Water Source” about Ireland’s referendum to change their constitution and allow women to have abortion rights. Campaigners for more women’s rights won by a landslide in the vote.

However Soini, a devout Roman Catholic, wrote that the world is going crazy if the defence of life itself needs to be defended, and said he would continue to do so in a “suitable and inappropriate moment”.

“The dirty water source may look good but it tastes bad” said Soini referring to the Irish referendum outcome: meaning that in his opinion the result might seem good on the surface, but is bad in reality.

Government Ministers React

This morning, Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP), who was previously Development Minister; and Anne-Mari Virolainen (NCP) the current Development Minister both made statements to emphasize that Soini’s comments are not official Finnish government policy.

“As Minister of Development, I increased funding for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive support including the potential for safe abortions in developing countries” writes Mykkänen.

“Finland addresses all aspects of sexual and reproductive health and writes” says Virolainen.

“Abortion law is not a matter of opinion. It is a human rights issue” she adds.

Foreign Ministry’s Policies Focus On Women’s Rights

Finland’s Foreign Ministry has put women’s and girl’s rights, including reproductive and sexual health rights, as a centerpiece of its foreign policy.

In February, the Ministry released a statement attributed to Minister Virolainen, saying that Finland would “pay special attention to the position of the most vulnerable groups and to girls’ right to have control over their own bodies and their future”.

“Finland will continue its active policy for the promotion of gender equality, with an emphasis on the advancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights” said Virolainen in the February statement.

Soini’s Previous ‘Double Standard’ Comments

It’s not the first time Soini has made controversial comments that have been at odds with Finnish government policy.

In 2016 he spoke up in defence of the Polish government, even as they worked to dismantle the integrity of independent public service broadcasting. Soini called an EU outcry about Polish government moves against the media an ‘over-reaction’, and the Foreign Ministry had to issue a statement saying his comments were made in his capacity at the time as the Finns Party Chairman.

The distinction between Soini as Foreign Minister, and Soini as a member of the Blue Reform party – he is no longer Finns Party chairman – seems to be paper thin.

“I think it’s not convincing that our Foreign Minister writes thing like that” says Reetta Vanhanen, a medical doctor and Green Alliance member of Helsinki City Council.

“He’s our representative in the world, and his message to Irish women and to Ireland should be that we are very happy about the decision and we should congratulate them. When women’s and girl’s reproductive rights are the main topic in our foreign policy he should write that we are happy about the decision” she tells News Now Finland.

We reached out to the Foreign Ministry in Helsinki for a comment, they passed the request to Soini’s politically-appointed adviser. If she responds, we will update this story.