Induced abortions in the Nordic countries

Quality description

The quality description of the Register of Induced Abortions assesses the reliability and suitability of the statistics for different purposes in accordance with the quality description recommendation of the Official Statistics of Finland (OSF).

Relevance of statistical data

The Induced abortions in the Nordic countries statistics are maintained by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and updated every two years, describing the number of induced abortions annually in all Nordic countries. In addition to the figures, the abortions are presented by age group per 1,000 women of the equivalent age group.

The statistical report also presents figures on the time of abortion by weeks of pregnancy, the proportion of drug-induced abortions and the number of abortions relative to live births. The end of the statistical report presents data on birth rates in the Nordic countries (number of live births and total fertility rate)[1]. The data content of the statistics has been defined so that the data can be compiled comprehensively for all Nordic countries. For this reason, the statistics do not include all variables collected in national abortion statistics.

The report is aimed at health care practitioners, authorities, planners and researchers working with reproductive health who need up-to-date information on abortions and need to relate country-specific information to the international situation.

In Finland, the operation of the abortion register is based on the Act on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (668/2008) and the Act on Abortion (239/1970). Information on the bases of data collection in other Nordic countries is available on the relevant websites.

Description of methods

The latest information has been updated based on of official statistics from each country, which the contact persons of the countries have submitted to THL. The contact persons represent organisations responsible for collecting abortion data in each country:

Statistics in each country are collected using different methods. In Denmark, in recent years, abortion data have been collected directly through a national hospital register containing personal identity codes. In Finland, information related to abortions is collected using a separate form that also contains the identity of the person. In Norway and Sweden, individual-level data are collected on the form, but the personal identity data are not stored in the national register. In Iceland, a separate data collection form was used before 2019, but with the reformed Termination of Pregnancy Act in 2019, the Icelandic Care Register became the data source.

The concepts and definitions used are presented in the text of the statistical report. In relating the data to the population, average population figures by age groups of five have been used. The population data are based on the figures reported by the countries to Nomesco (Nordic Medico-Statistical Committee), and the total fertility figures follow the total fertility figures reported to Eurostat and are mainly based on the figures of each country's statistical authority [2],[3].

The Finnish data contains data for Åland Islands, but the Danish data does not contain data for the Faroe Islands or Greenland[4].

Sweden’s data on abortions for 2013 are missing as data collection was suspended in Sweden in spring 2013. The detailed nature of the data collection and the protection of privacy were examined, and it was decided that data collection would continue at the beginning of 2014 with reformed data content.

Iceland’s data for 2019 are missing. The absence of Iceland’s data is connected to Iceland’s reformed 2019 legislation and the related reform of data collection. The data for 2019 will not be published, but from 2020 onwards, the data will be reported on the basis of the reformed data collection.

Denmark’s data for 2019–2021 are missing, which is related to the reform of the Danish abortion register. The data for 2019–2021 will be obtained retroactively after the register reform is completed.

In Finland, abortion data have been collected from all Finnish health care units in which abortions are performed. In accordance with the Act on Abortion and the decree issued under it, the health care unit in which the procedure is performed must submit a notification of the procedure to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) using a form approved by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health within one month of the completion of the procedure.

Correctness and accuracy of data

Each Nordic country’s statistical institution is responsible for their own national data collection and accuracy of data. Each country’s contact person checks and approves the information to be published before it is published.

Any errors found in the statistics will be corrected. Due to the notification delay, statistics for previous years are also updated retroactively. However, these corrections do not significantly affect the overall trend of the number of abortions.

Timeliness and promptness of published data

The Induced abortions in the Nordic countries statistics are produced by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare once every two years (odd years). The statistics are published once the national statistics of all Nordic countries are completed and published. As an exception, the statistics for 2021 will be published without Danish data for 2019–2021, as they have not yet been completed due to the Danish register reform.

Availability and transparency/clarity of data

The Induced abortions in the Nordic countries statistics have been published since 1999. The statistical report will be published on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

More detailed information on abortions in Finland can be found on THL’s website. For the first time in connection with this publication, the tables related to the statistics have been replaced by Sotkanet indicators.

Findata can grant researchers permission to use the data in the Finnish abortion register for scientific research. The statistical authority of each country is responsible for the use of data from said country.

Comparability of statistical data

The Nordic abortion statistics can be used to estimate the number of abortions from the 1970s until today and to compare the number of abortions between the countries. The tables have been designed and defined between Nordic partners, with the aim of defining the variables uniformly.

There may be minor differences in the availability of individual variables. The data content of the statistics has been updated, for example, as medical methods evolve (drug-induced abortion was only introduced in the early 2000s). There have been no significant changes in the concepts used in the statistics during the collection of the statistics.

Finland’s current Act on Abortion dates back to 1970. The most significant amendment to this act is the Act on the Amendment of the Act on Abortion (572/1985), which allowed fetal-based termination before the 24th full pregnancy week (≤24+0). The abortion data maintained by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare are available in electronic format beginning with 1983.

Clarity and consistency/cohesion

The statistical report contains comprehensive information on abortions in the Nordic countries. The data from previous years are updated retrospectively as necessary, but changes to previous years have been found to be relatively small.

Special issues concerning the 2021 statistics

Denmark’s data for 2019‒2021 are missing. The Danish data will be completed at a later date and will be added to the next statistical report, to be published in 2025.

Sweden’s 2020 statistics show that 2.7% of abortions lack information on the person’s age, which means that the figures per age group for Sweden are slightly lower than in reality.

For the first time in connection with this statistical publication, the table appendices have been replaced by Sotkanet indicators.


[1]Alternately with these statistics, Perinatal statistics in the Nordic countries are published in even years, with detailed information on births and newborns in the Nordic countries.



[2] Nordic population statistics can be found on the Nomesco/Nososco website. [As of 9 Feb 2023.]



[3] Further information on Eurostat birth rate statistics



[4] Information on abortions in the Faroe Islands and Greenland can be found in Nomesco’s Nordic database.



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