With the majority one vote heavier than the minority, the law legalizing abortion was passed in the Parliament, after 65 years of fighting. That law gave women authority to decide for themselves whether they wanted an abortion or not, up until the end of the 12th week. After 12 weeks had passed, an application had to be sent to an appeals board. All doctors were duty bound to help with this. Health workers could reserve themselves against assisting in abortions, and the husband's right to be part of the decision was removed.
The Church, which had taken a stand against legalizing abortions, played its strongest card. The bishops wrote circular letters to be read from the pulpit. In Ullern Church, the glergy were met by demonstrations, "No to hatred of women!" being one of their slogans.
Law of 1978
The debate about abortion did not die down. Three years after the law was passed, abortion was again a topic in the electoral campaign, but the law still stood. Health workers created the organization "Yes to life" ("Ja til livet") in 1896, in protest of the legalizing-law. At the same time, the other side demonstrated in favour of the new law, "Knitting Needles Never Again" ("Aldri mer strikkepinner") being one of their slogans.
Two priests, Børre Knutsen and Ludvig Nessa, organized a peculiar kind of opposition. They were known for their protests, among other things they used to send bloody dolls in letters to pro-choice people. They both lost their clerical positions, but kept on fighting against legalization of abortion. "If the doctors don't want a bullet in the head, they should stop performing abortions," Nessa said to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in 1999.
On average, 14.900 abortions were performed yearly in the 1990s. This was fewer than when the law had been passed in 1978. At the same time, the number of fertile women in Norway grew by 100.000 between 1978 and the 1990s, meaning the overall number of abortions was drastically reduced. Most of the procedures were performed in cases where no contraception had been used, or when contraception had been used, but failed.