Pregnant Norwegians travel internationally to countries like Sweden, England and Wales to undergo abortions after the 12-week limit prescribed by Norwegian law. An investigation by state broadcaster NRK revealed from 2008 to 2012, at least 67 Norwegian women went overseas for the procedure, the majority of them past week 13.
In Sweden the abortion limit is 18 weeks. In England and Wales it’s 24 weeks, but there’s no limit if there’s shown to be a significant risk that the baby will have a severe disability, or the mother will suffer serious physical or psychological harm.
Professor Sturla Eik-Nes at the National Centre for Fetal Medicine at St Olav’s Hospital said the women who are traveling for abortions are usually those who’ve been rejected under Norwegian law, both on application and appeal. “There are certainly conditions where it’s concluded in the Norwegian system that the reasons aren’t strong enough to have an abortion granted,” he said. While he would not detail the sort of “abnormalities” not considered serious enough, one anonymous doctor told NRK there have been cases where fetuses with cleft palates have been terminated abroad.
It’s illegal for Eik-Nes to tell women rejected for abortions where they can go, but the information is widely available on the internet. “These are obviously women who are desperate,” he said. “They have thought through their case and their situation, and feel they’re unable to care for a child with the special difference in question.”
Kristina Gemzell Danielsson at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at Stockhom’s Karolinska Institute said it’s stupid Norwegian women are forced to travel for “basic healthcare” and every country should take care of its citizens seeking abortion. “I don’t know that it’s right to add up that someone else chooses, and I don’t know that a doctor is better to choose this than a woman herself,” she said. Debate over moves to clarify Norway’s abortion laws has been heated in the parliament and media in recent weeks.