The controversial image posted on Facebook by Kristiansand deputy mayor Jørgen Kristiansen - Source: Facebook
"This is what a 12-week-old foetus looks like," Jørgen Kristiansen, the deputy mayor of Kristiansand, wrote under the picture. "It gives me at least a basis for reflection when the country is standing in the middle of a discussion on doctor's reservation rights.
Norway's new government is presently in consultation over plans to allow doctors to refuse to refer patients to have abortions if they, for religious or other reasons, are ethically opposed.
The plans are being debated as part of a deal Norway's two-party coalition struck after last September's election to win the support of the minority Christian Democrat party.
A survey carried out by Norway's VG newspaper found that 165 out of 187 mayors would vote against doctors being given the right to refuse to refer patients for abortion.
Marie Simonsen, the political editor of Norway's Dagbladet newspaper, immediately criticized the picture, saying that it did not represent how a 12-week-old foetus truly looked.
"This is a doll and a dishonest way to debate this matter," said Marie Simonsen, political editor of Dagbladet newspaper. "It is shocking that a senior member of the Christian Democrats is posting anti-abortion propaganda which he must know is a lie."
Kristiansen defended the picture, saying it did not fundamentally misrepresent the appearance of a foetus.
"The picture is from National Geographic and shows a child that is 5.5 centimetres long, with eyes, ears, fingers and everything else a child has when it is 12 weeks old," he said.