How free must abortion be after the 12th week? Parties in Norway differ
The leading parties in Norway are debating the future of abortion legislation in the run-up to the general elections in September. Parties on the left want to make the termination more accessible.
Since the early 80s, Norway has liberal legislation in which abortion is allowed up to 12 weeks. With the permission of a special abortion commission, the termination can be done up to 22 weeks. Especially the position of these abortion commissions is in debate in preparation for the elections on September 13th.
Five of the eight parties in the Storting, the Norwegian parliament with 169 seats, want to abolish the abortion committees. Labour, the largest party, together with the smaller Greens and the Liberals, wants a free abortion up to 18 weeks. The much smaller Socialists and the leftist Rødt are pleading for a free abortion up to 22 weeks.
The Socialist party SV (with 11 of the 169 seats) is the most outspoken on this issue. “Any extension of self-determination is a step in the right direction”, according to party leader Audun Lysbakken. At the end of April, the party decided after internal debate to plea for a self-determined abortion up to 22 weeks.
The governing Conservatives of Prime Minister Erna Solberg have said that their party is happy with the present regulation. In contrast to other parties, the Conservatives don’t propose any changes. Coming weekend, they will wait what the congress of the party will decide.
Linda Hofstad Helleland edits the Conservatives’ election manifesto. She doesn’t expect much debate from congress. Still, she is open to discussing how the abortion commissions work, the Norwegian Christian daily Vart Land reports. Some Conservatives think that the term “abortion commission” is provocative.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg doesn’t think “this is a debate”. She will make sure that there will be a free vote for the Conservative MPs. According to Vartland Solberg says “there is almost no one” in the parliamentary group who questions the self-determined abortion up to 12 weeks.
Also, the Women’s Forum of the leading Conservatives and the Young Conservatives agree with the present legislation.
The right-wing Forward party FrP says that it is happy with the present legislation. The party is not reflecting any changes, according to the party’s new deputy leader Ketil Solvik-Olsen in Vartland.
In 2020 there were 11,081 abortions in Norway. The great majority was done within 12 weeks. Only 508 cases came before the commission.
Experienced gynaecologists say the boards can prevent women from being pressured into abortion.
The Christian daily Vartland spoke to some gynaecologists who think that the commission system can protect vulnerable women. In every hearing of the commission with a pregnant woman, the opening question is: Is there anyone who pushes you to have an abortion?
Kirsten Hald, leader of the Norwegian Gynaecological Association, says: “I know of a few cases in which the family pressured the woman to have an abortion. They thought it was with the wrong man or the wrong time. They threaten to push her out of the family, or at worst, kill her.”
According to Hald, there is also a debate about the commission system within the Gynaecological Association. A study group will advise whether those committees are woman-friendly. The background of the system is that the growing foetus gets more legal protection as it grows bigger.