Revision of the present abortion laws in Iceland
ESC Congress Library. Bender S. 05/10/18; 208108; ESC109
Prof. Sóley Bender
Prof. Sóley Bender
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Objectives : The present abortion laws in Iceland date back to 1975. According to these laws women in Iceland have not been allowed to apply for an abortion without limitations. Their application has to be approved by two health care professionals, either two medical doctors or a medical doctor and a social worker. Based on great societal changes and changes regarding human rights issues that have taken place internationally and nationally Ministry of Welfare considered it important to reevaluate the laws from 1975. Design and methods : To compare the Icelandic abortion  laws to the abortion laws in other countries. To look into the present laws, evaluate the needs for changes and make suggestions.. Results : In comparison to the other Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark women can themselves decide to have an abortion to a certain time limit of pregnancy, either 12 or 18 weeks. In Finland two medical doctors need to agree if a woman applies for an abortion. The main suggestions regarding the present laws have to do with prevention and health promotion in the field of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and regarding abortion. It is being suggested  to establish an advisory board which would be guiding the work of developing an action plan for SRH in the country. Also, to establish SRH services for young people and provide greater availability of contraceptive methods for thoses in need. The main suggestions regarding abortion have to do with the rights of women to decide to have an abortion without limitations also to change the terminology. It was suggested that women should be free to apply for termination of pregnancy until the end of 22nd week of pregnancy without limitations. However, all women would be encouraged, as the present laws do stress, to apply early for the termination of pregnancy, before the end of the 12th week of pregnancy.  Instead of using the concepts destoying the fetus it is being suggested to use termination of  pregnancy.   Conclusions : Before 1975 there was a will among many people in Iceland to allow women to apply for abortion until the end of 12th week of pregnancy. In the final steps of the law-making it was not accepted by parliament. Now, after more than 40 years the rights of women are accepted and upheld. New abortion laws need to present the societal developments. 
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