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Proposes all foetal reductions to abortion boards

The government is following recommendations from medical professionals in proposing that all foetal reductions should be reviewed by an abortion board.

Today it is possible to remove one or more foetuses in a multiple pregnancy. This raises difficult ethical issues, and medical professionals have called for a clarification.

In 2016, the Ministry of Justice determined that the Abortion Act would open for foetal reductions of healthy foetuses, and that a woman’s right of self-determination before the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy would also apply to foetal reduction. 

In a proposal that is now being sent on consultation, the government is proposing that all foetal reductions should first be reviewed by an abortion board.

All applications for abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy is today processed by an abortion board. Most foetal reductions are performed after the twelfth week. The government therefore proposes that these should also be reviewed by a board. The criteria for granting foetal reduction are the same as the current criteria for granting an abortion after week 12. They say that an abortion can be granted if there is a risk of disease for the foetus or the woman, or if having a child would place the woman in a difficult life situation. The abortion boards will continue to place significant importance on how the woman views her own situation.

When applying for foetal reduction, it will not be sufficient in itself to state that the burden of care will be greater for two children than for one child, other conditions will also be required to indicate that the woman may be placed in a difficult life situation. For instance, she may already be caring for several other children, or she may be caring for a child with a serious disease or condition. The woman’s age and family situation may also be determining factors in granting foetal reduction. Foetal reduction may also be granted if the number of foetuses pose a risk of miscarriage or premature birth. The abortion boards must remain up to date on factors that could constitute a medical risk and adjust its practice based on this.

The boards can process applications for foetal reduction before week 12, even if the procedure is performed after week 12.  

All foetal reductions are regulated by a new provision.

Link to the consultation papers (in Norwegian only). 

The deadline for the consultation is 2. April 2019.

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