Nearly all abortions in Norway today are performed without surgery. This has resulted in shorter waiting time, earlier abortions, and the possibility to have abortions at home.
"It's a success story," says Mette Løkeland, chief physician at the Abortion Register at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health who has done research on medical abortion in Norway between 1998 and 2013. "We have witnessed an almost complete shift in the treatment of abortion from surgical to medical abortion.”
In 1998, the waiting time for abortion was just over eleven days. Today the waiting time has decreased to just over seven days.
The opportunity of medical abortion instead of surgery has also resulted in earlier abortions. In 1998, less than half of the abortions were performed by the end of week nine of the pregnancy, whereas in 2013 the figures had increased to almost eighty per cent.
"For women who wants to have the abortion as early as possible this is more easily accessible today. This is also in line with the preliminary work related to the Termination of Pregnancy Act, which states that it is both desirable and beneficial to have the abortion as early as possible," says Løkeland.
More than ninety per cent of her interviewees have told Løkeland that they are satisfied with the medical abortion procedure.
The abortion drug was developed in the early 1980s, but it wasn't available in Norway until 1998.
Norway has now some of the highest numbers in the world when it comes to the use of the abortion pill. The Scandinavian countries and Scotland have the largest percentage of medical abortions in the world.
In 1998 only about six per cent of the abortions carried out in Norway were performed medically. In 2013, the figures are above eighty per cent.
While European countries have been restrictive in terms of allowing women access to home abortions, this practice has been the norm in the U.S. since 2000. Haukeland University Hospital started to offer home abortions in 2006, and it quickly became the preferred abortion procedure among the women who were offered the choice.