Jump to maincontent

From 1975

In 1975, a new law was passed which legalized abortions. Now, social conditions should be taken seriously into consideration when an abortion was considered. The doctor still had to send the woman's application to an appeals board. In 1978, the law legalizing abortion upon request was passed.

... A pregnant woman has the right to terminate the pregnancy when a) the pregnancy, birth or care of the child might lead to unreasonable strain on the woman's physical or psychological health. It should be taken into consideration whether or not the woman is predisposed for certain illnesses...

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.

Church demonstrations:

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

... Should the woman find, after having received information and guidance after § 5, that she cannot go through with the pregnancy, she will herself make the final decision with regards to the abortion as long as the procedure is completed within the twelfth week, and there are no serious medical reason why the procedure should not take place...

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.