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HEALTH

Norwegian government to review abortion laws

A committee has been appointed to assess Norway’s abortion laws and aftercare, and to look at the possibility of allowing women to terminate pregnancies up to the end of week 18, the government announced Wednesday. 

Abortion tablets at a family planning clinic.
Norway will look into its abortion laws. Pictured is a file photo of abortion tablets at a family planning clinic. Photo by Manoocher Deghati / AFP.

Norway’s abortion laws could be set to change after the government announced a committee has been appointed to look into the possibility of women being able to choose to end the pregnancy up to week 18, and investigate where aftercare can be improved. 

“For many women, terminating a pregnancy is a difficult choice. Therefore, they must receive good professional support in the time before, during, and after (the abortion). Such important issues cannot be the subject of political horse-trading,” Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said at a press conference. 

Under current rules, women can freely choose to terminate a pregnancy until week 12. If they want an abortion after week 12, the termination must be approved by a medical board.

Women can only have an abortion approved by a board up until the end of week 18. The board consists of two doctors, and women may end the pregnancy between weeks 12 and 18 if care for the child would place an unreasonable burden on the child, there is a risk the child will have a severe illness, if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or is the woman is seriously ill or mentally incapable. 

READ ALSO: How to switch GPs in Norway

The committee’s investigation into the Abortion Act will take around 18 months. The committee will also look into how to improve aftercare for those who have an abortion. Kari Sønderland, lawyer and former head of operations at the Ministry of Health and Care Services, will chair the committee

Health spokesperson for the Centre Party, which is part of the coalition government with Labour, Hans Inge Myrvold, said that he was happy for the committee to look at the country’s abortion laws but that the party wants to keep the current limit of 12 weeks. 

“The Center Party wants to continue with the current primary limit in abortion legislation, with self-determined abortion up to 12 weeks,” the spokesperson told public broadcaster NRK

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HEALTH

Norway announces review to tackle ‘crisis’ in GP system

Norway’s government has tasked an expert committee to devise measures to improve the current GP system.

Norway announces review to tackle 'crisis' in GP system

More than 175,000 residents are currently without a GP in Norway, the government said in a statement on Thursday as it announced a broad-ranging expert review of national GP services. 

The objective of the expert committee will be to provide specific recommendations on how the GP system can be improved so that all residents have a permanent GP. The system should also be made sustainable, the government statement said.

“The current action plan (to improve the GP system) has several good measures, but they have not had the desired effect. So we have to think again, and we have to take new measures. We cannot continue on the same track and hope that the situation will resolve itself over time,” Minister of Health and Care Ingvild Kjerkol said in the statement. 

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said next year’s budget would include more funding for the GP scheme. 

“We are working in top gear to find solutions for the GP system and take the crisis with the utmost seriousness,” Støre said.

Part of the expert committee’s work will be to develop proposals for how the GP system should be funded and organised.

Problems faced by the national GP service are mounting, the government recognised in the statement. These include a lack of young doctors signing up to the GP programme, high workloads for existing GPs and recruitment problems at municipal level.

Being left on a GP waiting system and struggling to get an appointment were two common issues mentioned by The Local’s readers in a recent survey on the Norwegian healthcare system.

READ MORE: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

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