Amendments to the Abortion Act approved
The President of the Republic has approved the amendments to the Abortion Act. In future, a pregnancy may be terminated solely based on the pregnant woman’s request until the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy. In the 1970 Act, an opinion by two doctors was required in most cases for the termination of pregnancy, and grounds had to be presented.
The legislative amendment will not change the regulation in cases where abortion is carried out after the twelfth week of pregnancy. At the request of the pregnant woman, pregnancy may also be ended after the twelfth week of pregnancy if the continuation of pregnancy or giving birth would endanger the life or health of the pregnant woman. In this case, two doctors must be of the opinion that the termination is necessary.
Abortion may also be carried out with the permission of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health until the twentieth week of pregnancy in the cases provided by law, including for social reasons, and until the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy if the foetus has been diagnosed as having a serious disease or physical abnormality.
The Act also lays down provisions on psychosocial support. Those requesting or considering abortion and the other parent have the right to receive the psychosocial support they need. The need for support may arise in advance, when considering abortion and when weighing different options, and after abortion.
The Act will enter into force on 1 September 2023. Due to the legislative amendments, the Abortion Decree (359/1970) and the Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Forms Concerning Abortion and Sterilisation (1063/2008) must be amended. When the forms drawn up under the latter Decree are amended, changes must also be made to the patient information systems, for which sufficient time must be reserved.
Parliament requires an overall reform to strengthen the right to self-determination
These amendments are based on the Oma tahto 2020 citizens’ initiative. Parliament adopted the amendments to the Act in line the report of the Social Affairs and Health Committee. The amendments were considered necessary especially to secure the pregnant woman’s right to self-determination.
In its statement, Parliament also required that the Government immediately launch preparations for a comprehensive reform of the Abortion Act to further strengthen the right of a pregnant woman to self-determination.
Merituuli Mähkä, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]