Illegal immigrant denied abortion in Oslo

Oslo University Hospital has received a rap on the knuckles from a health service watchdog after it demanded advance payment from an undocumented migrant from West Africa who wanted an abortion.

The woman, who is in her early twenties, first informed medical staff of her unwanted pregnancy at the city’s Health Centre for Undocumented Immigrants, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

The clinic referred her to Oslo University Hospital, where an ultrasound examination confirmed that she was eight to nine weeks pregnant.

But instead of performing the abortion as requested by the patient, the hospital asked for payment in advance.  

A medical abortion was not an option in the woman’s case, and a surgical abortion would have cost her 4,000 to 12,000 kroner ($650-2,000), a fee she could not afford.

The Health Centre for Undocumented Immigrants then made an appointment for her at the nearby Akershus University Hospital, where the abortion was duly carried out.

The health centre, run jointly by the Church City Mission and the Red Cross, subsequently lodged a complaint with the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, claiming Oslo University Hospital’s decision not to perform the abortion was indefensible.

The centre also called for the hospital to put in place new procedures for dealing with cases involving undocumented migrants.

The watchdog responded that a pregnancy in the eighth or ninth week does not automatically qualify a patient for the emergency care to which everybody living in Norway, legally or illegally, has a right.

However, the board also pointed out that all women living in Norway have the right to terminate their pregnancy before the twelfth week.

This, the board said, meant the hospital should have applied a rule that states: “The patient has the right to treatment if an evaluation shows that treatment should be provided within three weeks.”

Oslo University Hospital said it regretted the incident and had changed its procedures.

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