Due to a ruling from Norway’s Ministry of Health, women who are pregnant with more than one baby at the same time will be permitted to abort one or some of those babies, even if they are healthy, and even if the woman is a citizen of another country.
“Selective reduction” abortions – aborting one or more babies while leaving at least one alive – is more restricted in nearby Sweden and Denmark, but the ruling from Norway means that women from other countries will be allowed to receive the procedure in Norway. Several women from other Scandinavian countries have reportedly already contacted Norwegian hospitals about getting selective abortions.
Hospitals will not be required to ask patients for their fixed address, leading some to fear that the ruling will lead to a surge in “abortion tourism.”
European news agency The Local reports: “The decision went against the advice of many doctors, who fear that the procedure carries risks for the health of both the mother and the remaining fetus.”
Dr. Birgitte Heiberg Kahrs, a specialist in fetal medicine at St Olav’s Hospital in Oslo, appears to be one of those medical experts who sees the ruling as problematic. “We have not found any medical benefit from this,” said Kahrs. “On the contrary, it exposes the second child in the womb to danger as the abortion risk increases.”
Kahrs recommended that selective abortion should only be allowed when one of the fetuses shows “developmental abnormalities,” and that the procedure should be carried out between the 12th and 14th week of pregnancy to “reduce the abortion risk.” But contrary to the recommendation of “many doctors,” the ruling will allow women pregnant with multiple fetuses to abort some or all them, even if they are completely healthy.
Torunn Janbu of Norway’s Directorate of Health told reporters, “All women, regardless of whether they are Norwegian or foreign women residing in Norway have the same right to abortion and fetal reduction.” However, Janbu also stated, “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.”
Fetal reduction is also known in the United States and elsewhere as “selective reduction” or even “pregnancy management.” Kim – known as the “Surprised by Five Mom” made headlines when she and her husband Vaughn rejected selective reduction and Kim gave birth to quintuplets. Photos of the five healthy brothers and sisters are available here and on the Surprised by Five Facebook page.