Information for anyone considering having an abortion

In Norway, women have the right to decide for themselves whether they wish to have an abortion during the first twelve weeks of their pregnancy. The duration of a pregnancy is determined from the first day of your last period.

Du trenger ikke henvisning fra fastlegen for å ta abort.

Illustration: Foto: Colourbox

You can submit a request for an abortion yourself. You do not need to be referred by your GP, as you can contact any hospital with a gynaecological department directly. You do not need to explain your reasons and there is no period of reflection.

When you contact your GP, health centre or hospital, they will ask you for the date of the first day of your last period.

If you are under 16, a parent or guardian will be given the chance to comment, if there are no specific reasons why they should not be given this opportunity.

The healthcare professional you contact should explain to you what the abortion will involve and the associated risk of complications. They will also ask you if you would like to be given information and guidance about the support you are entitled to from society if you decide to go through with your pregnancy.

If you would like further advice/guidance/support beyond the information provided by your healthcare professional (GP/nurse) in connection with your abortion, please contact your GP, health centre or other organisations which offer relevant guidance (see the separate section further down the page).

Information and guidance will be given in an objective manner and without the GP or other healthcare professional expressing their personal opinions. If a GP or other healthcare professional does express their personal opinions to you, you can complain to the county governor.

It is free to have an abortion

All women resident in Norway are entitled to have an abortion, either as an elective abortion or following consideration by a committee. Abortions are free for women resident in Norway. Women who are not resident in Norway, but who are a member of the Norwegian National Insurance scheme or covered by a reciprocal agreement with another country, may have their expenses covered by the National Insurance scheme. Others have to pay for the abortion themselves. However, the hospital cannot demand payment in advance.

What does the abortion involve?

After you have contacted the hospital yourself or your GP has sent a request for an abortion to the hospital, you will be asked to attend a preliminary examination.

During this examination, the doctor will measure your blood pressure, listen to your heart and lungs, take a blood sample and examine your lower abdomen. The abortion procedure will also be explained to you.

You can change your mind right up until the abortion is induced.

Where will the abortion be performed?

Abortions are performed either at a hospital or at home once it has been induced at a hospital.

Abortion after week 12

If you wish to have an abortion after the end of week 12 of your pregnancy (11 weeks and 6 days), you will have to apply for permission to have the procedure. You can contact a hospital that has a special medical assessment board (known as an ‘abortion board’, or ‘abortnemd’ or ‘primærnemd’ in Norwegian), your GP, a gynaecologist or another doctor. It is important that you make an appointment soon. If you are not sure when you had your last period or if you have irregular periods, it is important that you tell the doctor/hospital this when you call them.

The doctor you contact should prepare a written statement explaining why you wish to terminate your pregnancy, if you have not already written down the reasons yourself. The doctor will send this statement and your request for an abortion, along with other relevant and necessary medical information, to the abortion board at the hospital. You can choose which hospital and board you want the application to be sent to.

Every year, abortion boards in Norway consider around 600 applications for pregnancy termination after the 12th week of gestation. As of 1 January 2020, 26 of the country’s hospitals have an abortion board.

List of abortion boards (PDF, Helsedirektoratet.no)

How will my application be considered?

Your abortion application will be considered by an abortion board consisting of two doctors. You will be invited to attend a meeting with the board. You have the right to appear before the board, but you are not obliged to. For some women, it may be appropriate to attend the board meeting via video. If you wish, you can take someone with you to the board meeting.

During the board meeting, you will be able to explain more about why you wish to terminate your pregnancy and thereby help to clarify your circumstances. The abortion board will place considerable emphasis on how you see the situation yourself.

If your application is rejected, the matter will automatically be referred to the appeal board for abortion cases.

How is an abortion performed after week 12?

Abortions after the end of week 12 of a pregnancy are only carried out at hospitals. The abortion involves giving you medication which induces contractions until the abortion process is complete. You will be given painkilling medication.

At many hospitals, you will be offered counselling with a social worker both before and after your meeting with the board. If you are not offered this counselling, you can ask for it yourself.

After the abortion

After your abortion, there is a risk of inflammation in your abdomen. For as long as you continue bleeding, you should therefore not take baths or swim in the sea/lakes or swimming pools. You should also not use tampons or have sexual intercourse without a condom.

Your body will take a few days to adjust to not being pregnant. Any nausea, breast engorgement, etc. which you experience can therefore continue for a week or so after the procedure. If these symptoms do not subside, contact your GP or the hospital to make sure you are not still pregnant, even after your abortion.

Emotional reactions

Women react in different ways to having an abortion. Most people feel relief after the procedure, but it is not unusual to feel sad too. A mix of emotions is also a common reaction. Most people find it helpful to talk to close family and friends. If you want to someone, you can also contact your GP, the hospital, the community youth health clinic or a counselling service such as Amathea or Sex og samfunn (in Norwegian).

Contraception after abortion

You can become pregnant again very quickly after having an abortion. This makes it important that you think about whether you need to use contraception after your abortion, and if so what kind of contraception you want to use. You will be given guidance and advice on contraception in connection with your preliminary examination at the hospital.

Help and guidance

Deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy or to go through with it is not an easy decision. If you are finding it difficult to decide, it may help to talk to someone. It is best to talk to someone you trust.

You can also contact your GP, health centre, hospital, family counselling service or social services office for more information and advice or just someone to talk to - both before and after any abortion.

There are a number of private organisations which offer counselling and advice, including Sex og samfunn (in Norwegian) and Amathea.

Amathea is a free, state-supported counselling service, which can be contacted on 90 65 90 60.

You can call Helsenorge’s helpline on 23 32 70 00 and be forwarded directly to a hospital or counselling service. They will also be able to provide you with relevant information and guidance concerning the regulations that apply and your rights.

All healthcare professionals have a duty of confidentiality.