Solman just fine around Mart Helme

Riina Solman.

PHOTO: Erik Prozes

Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) told “Postimees Live” yesterday that she is in favor of retaining state funding for abortions, while she finds the registered partnership act to be faulty.

ERR television program “Pealtnägija” recently aired a piece about new parents Taivo Piller and Mart Haber, two men who love each other and became parents with the help of a surrogate mother. I understand this constitutes human trafficking for you. Why cannot two people who happen to be of the same sex have children?

I don’t think they are human traffickers. I also watched that heartfelt story that indeed was very well made.

You have said that surrogacy is human trafficking.

That may be. But they told their story for the first time on “Pealtnägija”. It is entirely legal in the USA. We do not have legislation to govern surrogacy.

Could we?

It would require a public debate first. Experts, including doctors have said it is only possible between people who are close to one another as it would otherwise cause social tension, disputes and problems.

Could it also apply to same sex couples were it legal?

And here we come to the sore spot in Estonia. Public opinion was split in 2014 with the birth of the registered partnership act. Its price was a society at odds with itself.

When calls for the act first appeared, it was said its aim was not marriage but cohabitation. Next, they said it did not concern adoption, while it has now all been turned around – all of it has been done with a single aim. We need an ethical debate for the Estonian people to reach agreement here.

Does the registered partnership act require implementing provisions in its current form?

I think it does not because the law is faulty. It does nothing to help the people whose needs it was aimed at. It is also flawed. Lawyers and I believe also the chamber of notaries have said as much. Perhaps the solution would be to go back to the drawing board. LGBT people need access to legal regulation when it comes to relations, but I’m not sure it needs to happen at the expense of people falling out.

The Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) has a negative opinion of abortions. The position of Isamaa is similar. Where do you stand on the issue?

I would turn to the coalition agreement: we need to solve problems tied to the pregnancy crisis by reinforcing the support system so that people would not have to get abortions for they constitute physical trauma.

We have support systems.

Is there such a thing as enough funding? We have an NGO of pregnancy crisis counsellors who have applied for funding from the health insurance fund but have been turned down. They definitely need more money.

EKRE has said it wants to abolish state funded abortions. Should that be done?

I believe gynecologists have it right here. Target groups that do not have funding of their own need state funding to keep them from turning to illegal options.

Why have EKRE and Isamaa adopted a misogynistic attitude and what should be done about it?

I would disagree. I’m a member of Isamaa. I’m also a woman. Look at me, I’m wearing a dress and have long hair, and yet I’m respected as such.

How do you feel around Mart Helme who recently referred to himself as an alpha male?

I feel just fine around him. Mart Helme is a very constructive and caring colleague. He is forceful in his rhetoric, insulting at times, but he pursues cooperation and means well in the coalition.

You have said that Mart Helme’s utterances hide “polite reasoning.” What is polite about referring to the president as an emotionally riled up woman?

That utterance was by an emotionally riled up man. Mart Helme is making efforts. He is an opposition politician who has fought his way into the government using tough rhetoric. Not everything can be changed overnight.

Your colleague in the coalition, [Chairman of the Riigikogu] Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) has repeatedly talked about standing up for normality and returning to normal values. Please define normality.

I will not define anything for Henn Põlluaas. What I am talking about is sensible conservatism, sensible treatments. For me, normality is a friendly society, good-neighborly relations, constructive cooperation, fewer insults and tensions.

When Helir-Valdor Seeder became chairman of Isamaa, he immediately opened up a new front in the bedroom? How will you set about boosting the birthrate?

Estonia has already taken measures. The third child benefit entered into force last year and we saw 25 percent more children born. Estonian women want 2.3 children on average, ideally three, but these ideals do not manifest for some reason. As population minister, it is my task to find out why that is. It likely boils down to material reasons, like housing, but also attitudes in society.

The state can help with money and by changing minds?

The state will not be going after attitudes; rather, it will support the things people want.