Norway allows foreign women pregnant with twins to have selective abortions

Several women from neighbouring hospitals have reportedly already contacted Norwegian hospitals about the procedure

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 18 October 2016 20:04 BST
Under the rules a woman can abort one foetus and keep the other
Under the rules a woman can abort one foetus and keep the other (BraunS/iStock )

Norway’s health ministry has ruled foreign women pregnant with twins can have selective reduction abortions in the country’s hospitals even if the foetus is healthy.

The ruling means women from neighbouring Sweden and Denmark where “selective reduction” abortions – meaning aborting one or more foetuses and leaving at least one behind – are illegal can come to Norway for the procedure.

As hospitals are not required to ask for a fixed address there are fears the move could lead to a rise in “abortion tourism” – though foreign women will have to pay for the procedure, Dagsavisen reported.

Several women from other Scandinavian countries are already said to have contacted Norwegian hospitals about the procedure, national broadcaster NRK reported.

It comes after lawyers at the Norwegian Department of Justice ruled in February that selective reduction procedures should be treated no differently to other types of abortion under Norwegian law.

Now the Department of Health has ruled this applies to foreign women as well.

Currently women are allowed to terminate a pregnancy until the end of the 12th week in Norway.

Dr Torunn Janbu, an official at the ministry, told The Local: “We don’t as the Directorate have anything to say about the ethics.

“We just inform the local health services about how to apply the law.”

But doctors are warning against the procedure which they say carries risks for both the health of the mother and the remaining foetus.

Dr Birgitte Heiberg Kahrs, a specialist in fetal medicine at St Olav's Hospital in Oslo said: "We have not found any medical benefit from this.

"On the contrary, it exposes the second child in the womb to danger as the abortion risk increases.

"Our recommendation was that this should only be allowed for twins if one fetus showed developmental abnormalities, and that it should be done between weeks 12 and 14 to reduce the abortion risk."

Two Norwegian political parties, the Christian Democrats and the Centre Party, have called for selective reduction abortion to be banned outright.

They have called for the Norwegian parliament to debate the proposal – arguing that selective abortion was not medically possible when the current abortion law was passed in 1978.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in