Abortion in Denmark

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Abortion in Denmark was fully legalized on 1 October 1973,[1] allowing the procedure to be done on-demand if a woman's pregnancy has not exceeded its twelfth week.[1] According to the law of Denmark, the patient must be over the age of 18 to decide on an abortion alone; parental consent is required if she is a minor.[1] An abortion can be performed after 12 weeks if the woman's life is in danger and even in cases where the woman has mental health problems. A woman may also be granted an authorization to abort after 12 weeks if certain circumstances are proved to be present (such as poor socioeconomic condition of the woman; risk of birth defects to baby; the pregnancy being the result of rape; mental health risk to mother).[2]

Abortion was first allowed in 1939 by application; if the doctors deemed the pregnancy fell into one of three categories (harmful or fatal to the mother, high risk for birth defects, or a pregnancy borne out of rape), a woman could legally have her pregnancy terminated.[3] A little more than half of the applications received in 1954 and 1955 were accepted; the low acceptance rates were linked to a surge of illegal abortions performed outside the confines of hospitals.[3] An addendum to the 1939 law was passed on 24 March 1970,[1] allowing on-demand abortions only for women under the age of 18 who were deemed "ill-equipped for motherhood," and women over the age of 38.[3]

The 1973 law is still valid today and nullifies the 1970 law.[1]

As of 2013, the abortion rate was 12.1 abortions per 1000 women aged 15–49 years, which is below average for the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).[4] The vast majority of Danes support access to legal abortions. In 2007, polls found that 95% supported the right.[5]

Faroe Islands[edit]

Abortion on the Faroe Islands is still governed by the Danish law of 1956, which restricts abortions to the aforementioned three circumstances (pregnancy harmful or fatal to the mother, high risk for birth defects, or a pregnancy borne out of rape). While abortion policy has not formally been devolved to the Faroese Parliament, Danish politicians have been unwilling to force the Danish abortion law on the more conservative Faroese population.[6][7] The abortion rate in the Faroe Islands is about one-third the rate in Denmark.[8] Additionally, some Faroese women travel to Denmark to have the procedure done.[9]


Abortion in Greenland was legalized on 12 June 1975, under legislation equivalent to the Danish law.[10]

The abortion rate in Greenland is among the highest in the world, and about five times higher than in Denmark, with the number of abortions exceeding live births in some years. Despite being treated as a public health concern, the rate remains high.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lovtidende for Kongeriget Danmark, Part A, 6 July 1973, No. 32, pp. 993-995
  2. ^ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/population/abortion/Denmark.abo.htm
  3. ^ a b c The rocky road to abortion on demand
  4. ^ Heino, Anna; Gissler, Mika (26 March 2015). "Induced abortions in the Nordic countries 2013". THL. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  5. ^ Thimmer, Niels (11 February 2007). "Dansk støtte til fri abort i Portugal". avisen.dk. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Question S 1361 for the minister of justice" (in Danish). Folketinget. 9 January 2004. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  7. ^ Tin, Hjalte (16 October 2004). "Abort-imperialisme" [Abortion imperialism] (in Danish). Dagbladet Information. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Number of induced abortions 2000-2009". ArcticStat. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Færøske gravide får abort i Danmark" [Faroese women get an abortion in Denmark] (in Danish). Berlingske Tidende. 30 August 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Lov for Grønland om svangerskabsafbrydelse" [Law for Greenland about termination of pregnancy]. Law No. 232 of 12 June 1975 (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Stadig masser af aborter i Grønland" [Still lots of abortions in Greenland] (in Danish). DR. 3 July 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Der er for mange aborter i Grønland" [There are too many abortions in Greenland] (in Danish). Naalakkersuisut. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2018.