Abortion in Denmark was fully legalized on 1 October 1973,[1] allowing the procedure to be done electively if a woman's pregnancy has not exceeded its 12th week. Under Danish law, the patient must be over the age of 18 to decide on an abortion alone; parental consent is required for minors, except in special circumstances. An abortion can be performed after 12 weeks if the woman's life or health are in danger. 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 in the baby, the pregnancy being the result of rape, or mental health risk to mother).[1]

On June 1, 2025, abortion will become legal on request up to the 18th week of pregnancy and parental consent will no longer be required for 15-18 year olds.[2]

History edit

Percentage of conceptions aborted in Denmark

The Danish Code of 1683 called for the execution of any unmarried woman who terminated her pregnancy,[3][4] and at least 17 women were executed on these grounds in the preceding period 1624–1663.[5]

The Midwife Regulation of 1714 (Jordemoderforordningen) extended the death penalty to midwives who induced abortions, though it is unclear how often the penalty was effectuated. A 1760 case involving the use of illegal abortion drugs was settled administratively with a fine; a 1772 court case over a woman who died following the illegal administering of drugs likewise led only to a fine;[6] and towards the end of the century, death sentences were routinely commuted.[3]

With the new penal code of 1866, the maximum penalty was reduced to eight years of penal labor. In 1930 it was further reduced to two years in prison, and an exemption was added for pregnancies threatening the life of the mother.[3][7]

The issue of liberal reforms in abortion laws was raised in public and political debate during the 1920s and 1930s, in parallel with the debate around sexual education and birth control.[3][7]

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.[8] 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.[8] An addendum to the 1939 law was passed on 24 March 1970,[1] allowing elective abortions only for women under the age of 18 who were deemed "ill-equipped for motherhood", and women over the age of 38.[3][8]

Abortion in Denmark was fully legalized on 1 October 1973,[1] allowing abortion to be done electively if a woman's pregnancy has not exceeded its 12th week. The reform marked a crucial step towards recognizing women's right to make choices about their own bodies. The decriminalization not only ensured access to safe abortion procedures but also aligned Denmark with evolving international standards on reproductive rights.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).[9] The vast majority of Danes support access to legal abortions. In 2007, polls found that 95% supported the right.[10]

Abortion rights of minors edit

Danish law generally permits children to consent to medical procedures from the age of 15,[11] but not in the case of abortion where parental consent is required until the age of 18.[12] A minor may petition the government to grant an abortion without parental consent, or (in special cases) even without informing the parents.[12] Such requests number about 20 to 40 per year and are usually granted, though in 2014, one child was refused both parental consent and government exemption and forced to carry her pregnancy to term.[13]

Already in 2003, the Green Left party proposed lowering the age at which an abortion can be had without parental consent to 15,[14] in line with the general Danish age of medical autonomy,[15] but despite securing support from a parliamentary majority, the law remained unchanged at the time. In 2023, the Danish government announced new plans to finally change the law.[16] Children under the age of 15 would still need parental consent.

Access to abortion services edit

Access to abortion services in Denmark is characterised by both the legal availability of the procedure and efforts to ensure a thorough and comprehensive distribution across regions. Abortion is legally permitted within specified gestational limits and under defined circumstances, such as preserving the woman's health or in cases of socio-economic considerations. This legal framework supports women's autonomy in reproductive choices.[1]

The Danish healthcare system prioritises comprehensive access to abortion services. In both public and private healthcare facilities, they offer different services, contributing to widespread availability. [compared to?] The Danish Health Authority compiles and publishes detailed statistics on abortion procedures performed annually, offering transparency on the utilisation of these services. The authority's reports include information on the number of abortions, gestational ages, and relevant demographic data. [2][failed verification]

Furthermore, Denmark emphasizes the provision of information and counselling for individuals considering abortions. Women are entitled to receive accurate information about the procedure, its implications, and available alternatives. These counselling sessions are designed to support informed decision-making and ensure that the individual's choice aligns with her circumstances and values, helping them to make a choice that is well-informed and reflective of their personal situation and ethical considerations. [3]

Abortion methods and techniques edit

Abortion methods and techniques practiced in Denmark encompass a range of options tailored to individual preferences, medical considerations, and gestational stages. Medical abortions, which involve the use of medication to induce termination, are available within the first trimester. This method typically involves a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, administered under medical supervision.[17]

Surgical abortions are conducted both through aspiration and dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures. Aspiration, often referred to as vacuum aspiration, is performed in the first trimester. It involves the gentle removal of the pregnancy through suction, usually completed within a brief outpatient procedure. D&E, on the other hand, is employed for pregnancies at later gestational stages. This surgical method entails dilating the cervix and evacuating the uterine contents.[18]

The choice of method depends on factors such as gestational age, medical considerations, and patient preferences. Danish healthcare providers prioritize patient safety and well-being, adhering to established medical guidelines and standards of care for abortion procedures. Medical professionals ensure that individuals seeking abortions are informed about the available methods, their implications, and any potential risks.[17]

Key figures in abortion reforms edit

Organisations like the Danish Family Planning Association (Sex & Samfund) and women's rights advocacy groups have also been crucial in propelling progressive abortion reforms. These organizations have played active roles in raising awareness about reproductive rights, disseminating accurate information, and advocating for policies that prioritize women's well-being and self-determination.[19]

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), as Danish politicians were historically unwilling to impose the Danish abortion law on the more conservative Faroese population.[20][21] Abortion policy was formally devolved to the Faroese Parliament in 2018.[22][23]

As of 2020, the abortion rate in the Faroe Islands was 2.9 abortions per 1000 women aged 15–44 years, about one-fourth the rate in Denmark.[24][25] Additionally, some Faroese women travel to Denmark to have the procedure done.[26]

Greenland edit

Abortion in Greenland was legalized on 12 June 1975, under legislation equivalent to the Danish law.[27]

As of 2019, the abortion rate in Greenland was 79.7 abortions per 1000 women aged 15–44 years, which is among the highest in the world and about six times higher than in Denmark; the number of abortions have exceeded live births every year since 2013.[28][29][30] Despite being treated as a public health concern, the rate remains high.[31][32]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e Lovtidende for Kongeriget Danmark, Part A, 6 July 1973, No. 32, pp. 993–995
  2. ^ "Denmark relaxes abortion law". POLITICO. 3 May 2024. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rosenbeck, Bente; Dübeck, Inger (6 April 2020). "abort – historie". Den Store Danske Encyklopædi (in Danish). Archived from the original on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  4. ^ Andersen, Bjørn, ed. (1683). "Kong Christian den Femtis Danske Lov" [Danish Code] (PDF). §6.6.7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 February 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021. Letfærdige Qvindfolk, som deris Foster ombringe, skulle miste deris Hals, og deris Hovet settis paa een Stage. [Loose women, who kill their fetus, shall lose their neck and have their head put upon a stake.]
  5. ^ Manniche, E. (October 1982). "[History of induced abortion in Denmark from 1200 to 1979]". Josanpu Zasshi (in Japanese). 36 (10): 842–7. PMID 6759731.
  6. ^ Dübeck, Inger (1974). "Jordemødre i retshistorisk belysning" [Midwives in a legal–historical perspective]. Jyske Samlinger (Ny række) (in Danish). 10. Jysk Selskab for Historie: 378. Archived from the original on 22 July 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Kvindekilder – Abort" [Women's sources – Abortion] (in Danish). KVINFO. 2009. Archived from the original on 17 December 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  8. ^ a b c The rocky road to abortion on demand
  9. ^ Heino, Anna; Gissler, Mika (26 March 2015). "Induced abortions in the Nordic countries 2013". THL. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  10. ^ Thimmer, Niels (11 February 2007). "Dansk støtte til fri abort i Portugal". avisen.dk. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Sundhedsloven" [Health Care Act]. 3 August 2023. §17. En patient, der er fyldt 15 år, kan selv give informeret samtykke til behandling. Forældremyndighedens indehaver skal tillige have information, jf. § 16, og inddrages i den mindreåriges stillingtagen. [A patient that has reached the age of 15 can give informed consent to treatment. The holder of parental custody must additionally be informed, cf. § 16, and involved in the decision process of the minor.]
  12. ^ a b "Sundhedsloven" [Health Care Act]. 8 March 2023. §99. Er den gravide under 18 år, og har denne ikke indgået ægteskab, skal forældremyndighedens indehaver samtykke i anmodningen. [If the pregnant person is under 18 years of age, and have not entered into marriage, the holder of parental custody must consent to the request.]
  13. ^ "Årsberetning 2021 Abortankenævnet" [2021 annual report of the Abortion Appeals Board] (PDF). June 2022. p. 14.
  14. ^ "Flertal for at sænke abortalderen" [Majority for lowering the age of abortion]. Danmarks Radio. 25 January 2003.
  15. ^ "Lov om patienters retsstilling" [Act on the Legal Status of Patients]. 1 July 1998. §8.
  16. ^ Rasmussen, Louise; Gotfredsen-Birkebaek, Johannes (25 May 2023). "Denmark wants to lower abortion age without parental consent to 15". Reuters.
  17. ^ a b "Medical Abortions". Sundhed. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  18. ^ "Surgical Abortion". Sundhed. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  19. ^ "National focus: Danish Family Planning Association fights to keep politicians committed to SRHR". Countdown 2030 Europe. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  20. ^ "Question S 1361 for the minister of justice" (in Danish). Folketinget. 9 January 2004. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  21. ^ Tin, Hjalte (16 October 2004). "Abort-imperialisme" [Abortion imperialism] (in Danish). Dagbladet Information. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  22. ^ Funch, Maja (20 April 2018). "Færøerne ruster sig til hård debat om fri abort" [The Faroe Islands prepare themselves for a tough debate on legalized abortion]. Kristeligt Dagblad (in Danish). Archived from the original on 28 June 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  23. ^ Færøernes overtagelse af sagsområdet person-, familie- og arveretten [The Faroese acquisition of the personal, family and inheritance areas of law] (PDF) (in Danish). Børne- og Socialministeriet (Ministry for Children and Social Affairs). 2016. pp. 5, 15. ISBN 978-87-999120-9-4. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 June 2020.
  24. ^ "IB01030 Population by sex, age and village/city, 1st January". Statistics Faroe Islands. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  25. ^ "HM01080 Number of induced abortions by female age". Statistics Faroe Islands. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Færøske gravide får abort i Danmark" [Faroese women get an abortion in Denmark]. Berlingske Tidende (in Danish). 30 August 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  27. ^ Lov for Grønland om svangerskabsafbrydelse [Law for Greenland about termination of pregnancy] (PDF) (Law 232). 12 June 1975. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  28. ^ "Population January 1st [BEESTA]". StatBank Greenland. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  29. ^ "Livebirth by residence (district) [BEEBBL3]". StatBank Greenland. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  30. ^ "Abortions [SUEA1]". StatBank Greenland. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Stadig masser af aborter i Grønland" [Still many abortions in Greenland] (in Danish). DR. 3 July 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  32. ^ "Der er for mange aborter i Grønland" [There are too many abortions in Greenland] (in Danish). Naalakkersuisut. 18 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.