Abortion Rights Debate in Norway Heats Up

The discussion is about whether or not doctors should be allowed to reserve themselves against referring women to have an abortion and some types of contraceptives. A lot of people say no to law change. New regulations from the government also say that a pregnancy can never be cancelled after 18 weeks and that after 22 weeks only two reasons can be viewed as reasons for abortion:  if the life of the mother is in danger, or if the fetus isn´t viable.

– The reason why we promote this is because we have made a deal with Krf. But I believe that we have found good solutions that balance between what women needs, that is where the main focus lies, and a reservation opportunity for doctors where the women is indeed taken care off.

Krf rejects the suggestion of giving communes the opportunity to veto their new reservation act suggestion. Solberg also says that if it were not for Krf, this law change would probably never have been discussed.

Todays abortion act does not contain any point saying that doctors have the opportunity to reserve themselves against operating an abortion. Thus, several doctors have done this, either through the commune or through informal arrangements. In 2012, under Stoltenberg´s government, a more precise document was sent to all the communes in the country stressing that doctors are not allowed to reserve themselves.

Last week health minister Bent Høie sent out his suggestion about law change to open up so that doctors can be allowed to reserve themselves against referring woman to abortion. In 2012 Høie was one of the people who argued most against this change of law.

Several communes against change

Several communes are against law change, and several of Høyre´s own politicians said that they will not approve doctors who reject abortion recommendation in their commune.

Solberg says that she is not surprised that a lot of people have strong reactions towards this issue. She also says that:

– I believe that all the people who try to say that this is about women´s right to abortion are wrong. Women´s right to abortion does not concern this (topic).

Last Wednesday VG conducted a survey where 165 mayors answered that they will forbid reservation right for doctors in their communes.

According to Solberg and Høie, Krf has known about the suggestion to restrict the reservation act since October 30. last year. Nevertheless a lot of people in Krf say that it has been clear that they reject this suggestion since they joined Solberg´s government last year.

About Abortion Reservation

Abortion Act of 1975 gives all women the right to abortion, while providing healthcare professionals the right to refuse to perform or assist in the procedure for reasons of conscience. But the reservation clause applies only to doctors who perform surgery, and not primary care physicians. While approaching to the end of the year, the debate has been heated with the new government’s proposal to expand the scope of the Abortion Act by granting primary care physicians the same reservation right.

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