Abortion in Iceland

The abortion in Iceland has been legal in specific medical and social circumstances since 22 May 1975. 1 2 The rate of abortion in Iceland is relatively high compared to other Nordic countries .


Abortion in Iceland was legalized in a number of grounds on May 22, 1975. Although the law does not allow abortions on request, they are permitted in various medical and social circumstances. Medically, an abortion is lawful if the pregnancy threatens the physical or mental health of a woman, if the fetus has a serious congenital defect , or if the woman is considered unable to take care of her child because of her age or mental disability. The social motives for abortion include: if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest; If the woman has already had several children with only short periods between pregnancies; If the woman lives in a particularly difficult family situation; Or if the poor health of the woman or her partner prevents them from being able to take care of their child. 2

Abortion is legal only if it is performed within the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, unless the pregnancy puts the woman’s health at risk or the fetus has a severe deformity. 2 All Icelandic women who undergo abortions should receive counseling before and after the procedure, including education on the use of contraceptives . 3

The execution of an illegal abortion carries a sentence of between five and seven years in prison. 2


A study published in 2003 found that during the period from 1976 to 1999 the abortion rate in Iceland increased by 133%, increasing from 9.4 abortions per 1000 women to 21.9 per 1000 women, with the highest regional indices in the area of Reykjavik . The authors noted that Iceland’s abortion rate was higher than in any of the other Nordic countries, a trend attributed to limited sex education, early initiation of sexual activity and less effective use of contraception in Iceland. 4

As of 2010, the abortion rate in Iceland was 14.5 abortions per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. 5


  1. Back to the top↑ “Lög um ráðgjöf og fræðslu varðandi kynlíf og barneignir og um fossingyðingar og ófrjósemisaðgerðir” (in Icelandic ) .
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c d United Nations . “Abortion in Iceland” (in English) . Consulted the 6 of September of 2014 .
  3. Back to top↑ BBC (June 2, 2002). “Europe’s terms for terminations” (in English) . United Kingdom . Consulted the 6 of September 2014 .
  4. Back to top↑ «Trends in teenage fertility, abortion, and pregnancy rates in Iceland compared with other Nordic countries, 1976-99». Acta Obstetrics et Gynecologica Scandinavica (English) 82 (1): 38-47. 2003. doi : 10.1034 / j.1600-0412.2003.820107.x . PMID 12580838 .
  5. Back to top↑ United Nations (2013). “World Abortion Policies 2013” (in English) . Retrieved on March 3, 2014 .