Abortion in Finland

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Abortion in Finland is legal and free of charge under a broad range of circumstances. By international standards, political controversy is mild, and incidence is low.

Legal framework[edit]

According to law, approval for an abortion requires the signature of at least one physician (and in some cases, two), and in some cases additional permission from the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). So officially abortion is not legal upon request, but in reality any pregnant individual gets an abortion that requests it before the 12th week of pregnancy.[1]

One doctor's signature is enough in the case of terminations before the 12th week when the applicant is under 17 years old or has passed her 40th birthday, or if the applicant has already given birth to 4 or more children, regardless of age. Otherwise two doctors' signatures are required. Reasons for approval are the potential physical or mental distress if the pregnancy runs to term; or if the pregnancy arises from a serious crime (e.g. rape or incest) or if an illness of either parent would make it difficult to provide a normal upbringing for the child. Reference to Valvira for review and decision is needed in all cases between 13-20 weeks; or when there are grounds that the fetus is abnormal (in which case the 20 weeks is extended to 24 weeks); or in any case where the doctor has given a negative decision. Above 20 weeks, a threat to the physical life of the mother is the only valid reason for terminating a pregnancy. [2][3][4]


In Finland, abortion was illegal until 1950, when the Parliament of Finland legalized abortions to preserve the physical or mental health of the woman, if the woman was under 16, if the fetus might be deformed, or the woman had been raped.[5] Under pressure from the women's liberation movement and supportive editorials from most national newspapers, Finnish law was further liberalized in 1970.[6] The 1970 law allowed abortion up to 16 weeks of pregnancy for broad socio-economic reasons, if the woman was younger than 17, if the woman was older than 40, if the woman had already had four children, or if at least one parent would be unable to raise the child owing to disease or mental disturbance.[7]

This time limit was lowered from 16 to 12 weeks in 1979.[8] The 1970 law also allowed abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in the event of fetal deformity or physical threat to the woman's health. A 1985 bill allowed abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy for underage women and up to the 24th week if an amniocentesis or ultrasound found serious impairment in the fetus.

In 2008, there were 10,423 abortions in Finland. There has been a gradual decrease in abortions over time, largely attributable to a decrease in the under 20 age group [9] As of 2010, the abortion rate was 10.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years. [10]

Abortions are provided free-of-charge in public hospitals. It is illegal to perform abortions in private clinics, though doctors are empowered to provide abortions outside of hospitals in emergency circumstances. Illegal abortions remain very rare because, due to the generality of the conditions specified in the law, in practice, a woman can get an abortion under almost any circumstance.[11]

Political controversy since the 1970 law has been mild. Members of parliament from rightist parties, notably the Finns Party, periodically make statements decrying abortion as "immoral". Still, there has been no focused political campaign to significantly restrict abortion since legalization.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] (in Finnish)
  2. ^ http://www.valvira.fi/terveydenhuolto/toimintaluvat/raskauden_keskeyttaminen/lupa_raskauden_keskeyttamiseen
  3. ^ http://www.valvira.fi/terveydenhuolto/toimintaluvat/raskauden_keskeyttaminen
  4. ^ http://www.infopankki.fi/en/living-in-finland/health/abortion
  5. ^ Pirkko Niemelä. 1988. "Finland." Pg. 152-69 in International Handbook on Abortion. Ed. Paul Sachdev. New York: Greenwood Press.
  6. ^ Helga Suutarinen. 1972. Vuoden 1970 aborttilaki sanomalehtien pääkirjoitukissa [The 1970 abortion law in newspaper editorials]. M.S. Thesis in Social Politics, University of Helsinki.
  7. ^ Pirkko Niemelä. 1988. "Finland." Pg. 152-69 in International Handbook on Abortion. Ed. Paul Sachdev. New York: Greenwood Press.
  8. ^ (in Finnish) Finnish Medical Society Duodecim. "Raskaudenkeskeytys." (August 20, 2001). Retrieved June 14, 2007.
  9. ^ (in Finnish) Terveyden ja Hyvinvoinnin Laitos ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-27. Retrieved 2010-03-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)." (November 23, 2009). Raskaudenkeskeytykset Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  10. ^ "World Abortion Policies 2013". United Nations. 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  11. ^ Europe's Abortion Laws. (February 12, 2007). BBC News. Retrieved June 14, 2007.