Norway Will Negotiate Discriminatory Elements in Abortion Act

Photo : Bradley Gordon.

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Prime Minister Erna Solberg does not want to change abortion practice in Norway, but will remove “discriminatory element in the law”, according to Dagens Næringsliv.

Solberg has been criticized for her willingness to negotiate changes in the Abortion Act, as she needs the support of Christian Democrats (KrF) for her bourgeois government.

In an interview with the newspaper, Solberg says that women should still be able to use abortion right after 12 weeks if there is a high risk of the child having serious disabilities.

– What we are going to negotiate is finding a solution that can remove the discriminatory element in the Abortion Act, while putting an important barrier to the development of classifications in the community,” says Solberg to DN.

It is primarily paragraph 2c of the Abortion Act, which KrF members hope to have changed through government negotiations with Solberg. It is referred to by the opponents of the “Classification Paragraph” or “Downs Paragraph”. The opponents suggest that giving right of abortion for serious disability such as down syndrome
can lead to classification in the society.

According to DN, Solberg does not want a major change in abortion practice, but she is positive to revise the disputed paragraph 2c.

Abortion practice in Norway

Current Norwegian legislation and public health policy provides for abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of gestation, by application up to the 18th week, and thereafter only under special circumstances until the fetus is viable, which is presumed at 21 weeks and 6 days.

Although some argued that easier access to abortion would cause abortion rates to increase, the number of abortions has remained stable since the early 1970s, especially when adjusted for demographic changes related to fertility. There were 12,733 abortion cases in Norway in 2017. The rate goes down for all age groups; from 11.0 per 1000 women (15-49 years) in 2016 to 10.6 in 2017. 81.2 percent of them were performed before the 9th week.

In September 2013, a committee appointed by the Ministry of Health and Care Services recommended that abortion should not be allowed after 21 weeks and 6 days gestation. On 1 January 2015 the regulation on abortion was changed to say that a fetus is presumed viable at 21 weeks and 6 days, unless there is specific reasons to believe it is not.

As of 2010, the abortion rate was 16.2 abortions per 1000 women aged 15–44 years.

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