In February 2016 Norwegian government officials determined that current abortion laws permitted foetal reduction. This means a woman pregnant with twins could opt to abort one and keep the other. The only limitation placed on this type of abortion is that it’s within the first trimester only. This procedure can be carried out without any medical or social reason. Simply because the mother decides that one child would be better than two is reason enough for the Norwegian government to permit this procedure.
The decision to allow this goes directly against the wishes and advice of Norwegian medical professionals who have concerns over the potential risk of injury to the remaining foetus.
Dr Brigitte Heiberg Kahrs from the ‘National centre for foetal health’ at ‘St Olavs Hospital’ told NRK that “Our recommendation was that this should only be allowed in the case of twins if one of the foetuses shows signs of developmental weakness, and that its abortion only should be performed between weeks 12 and 14 to reduce the risk of also losing the other child.”
“We haven’t found any medical gain from this; on the contrary, an abortion of one foetus puts the other in danger.”
“We have difficulties recommending anything that doesn’t offer a health advantage.”
NRK also contacted Terje Rootwelt the deputy director of Oslo University Hospital. Rootwelt agreed with Dr Heiberg Kahrs “We have no wish that this will become routine in Norway,” Rootwelt said.
Now the Norwegian Department of Health has gone one step further and ruled that the February decision applies to foreign women as well. This ruling now means that women from neighbouring Sweden and Denmark where selective reduction abortions are illegal can now travel to Norway for the procedure.
There is not much information about ‘Selective Reduction’ abortion in Australia; a few studies have looked at the legal ramifications if such a procedure was to be performed in Australia. One study completed by Griffith University in 2014 (Selective reduction of foetuses in multiple pregnancies and the law in Australia, Colleen Davis and Heather Douglas) suggested that selective reduction of foetuses could fall within the meaning of “abortion” within Australian law. Meaning that in the ACT and Victoria, a woman could potential choose to have the procedure up to 24 weeks and in Tasmania up to 16 weeks. Laws in other states vary and usually only allow abortions for medical reasons.
The idea of allowing selective reduction abortion is one which raises a lot of concerns for many in society, both from the Pro Choice and Pro Life crowds. Concerns have been raised by medical specialist on the risk to the other twin and then there is the bond that twins seem to have as they grow up. Many psychologists are fascinated by the unique bond that twins have. Many studies have looked into the relationship between twins. Is this bond developed over time between the twins in a family environment or is there something more at play, is this bond evident at birth? As twins have identical genetic traits it seems quite logical that they will develop a close bond overtime in a close family environment. If that is all that creates the bond, then aborting one twin will have no lasting impact on the surviving twin, but if this bond is more on a spiritual level then taking one away could potential leave the remaining twin feeling a deep loss that they will never be able to fill.
There has to be a point at which society says that this is too much, we have gone too far. Even if you’re Pro Choice you have to realise that this is pushing all ethical values. It’s taking one life and risking another, it’s potentially having a profound impact on the surviving child’s life and it’s making a choice between two lives, like one is more important than the other. This is society going mad.