Debate in Norway about proposal of abortion in Constitution


Northern Europe


Physician performing a sonogram to confirm pregnancy on a patient seeking abortion services. Photo AFP, Robyn Beck

The proposal from the liberal Venstre Party in Norway to make abortion part of the Constitution has met heavy criticism.

The criticism mainly comes from the Christian world, as the pro-life movement and the Christian Democratic KrF. Secular parties, though, have not expressed support for the proposal yet.

Maria Elisabeth Selbekk from the pro-life organisation Menneskeverd warns that enshrining the right to abortion in the Constitution overlooks the right to life of the unborn child. She points out to Verdinytt that the Norwegian abortion law is not one of rights, but a balancing act. "The law is designed to balance two interests, of the mother and of the child. Therefore, this problem does not belong in the Constitution, but requires special legislation, such as the Norwegian abortion law."

The Norwegian Christian Democratic Party is also critical of the Liberal's proposal. Leader Olaug Bollestad emphasises that the Venstre "ignores the child's human dignity and legal protection." instead, she pleads for human dignity to be included in the Constitution. She would like to see an article like: "Human dignity must be inviolable, and everyone has the right to bodily integrity from conception to natural death."


The Liberal Party in Norway wants to include abortion in the Constitution. Therefore, it pushes the issue into the Parliamentary agenda for consideration.

The party is afraid of restrictions on the national abortion policy in the future, Vart Land writes. Liberal (Venstre) spokesperson Ingvild Wetrhus says to Vart Land that the future is unknown. "Therefore, we should ensure that it takes a lot of effort to be able to change or remove the right to abortion."

Legitimate purpose

To that end, Wetrhus and some other politicians, among whom Venstre leader Guri Melby, presented a proposal to include abortion in the Constitution. They did so last Wednesday on the occasion of International Women's Day.

It pleads for the following article to be included in the Constitution: "Everyone has the right to terminate their pregnancy voluntarily. A limitation of this right must have a basis in law, be necessary to safeguard a legitimate purpose and cannot prevent a real and justifiable opportunity to terminate one's own pregnancy. The national authorities must ensure the right to voluntarily terminate one's own pregnancy through access to information and good health services."


At the moment, abortion is regulated by common legislation in Norway. It is not seen as a human right and does not fall under Constitutional protection, the proposal reads. It points out that several countries have restricted access to abortion in recent times.

"There must never be any doubt about pregnant women's right to free, self-determined abortion in Norway. To protect the pregnant woman's freedom to choose for herself, the principle should be enshrined in the Constitution without too much room for interpretation", the proposal continues. It calls the constitutionalising of abortion a "bulwark against a future we do not know."

The initiators emphasise that this draft law does not change anything about the current abortion limits and regulations. The proposal must pass through two Parliamentary rounds before it can be implemented.



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