Concealment of pregnancy and newborn infant abandonment are closely associated with neonaticide, the killing of an infant within the first 24 h of life or less than 28-30 days depending on the jurisdiction. Abandonment of newborn infants occurs throughout the world and often the outcome for the infant is death. Together with neonaticide it is felt to be one of the least preventable crimes. In this retrospective study we present all forensically known Danish cases of abandoned newborn infant corpses, covering the period from 1997 to 2008. Eleven newborn infant corpses were found; we registered characteristics of the newborn infants and the circumstances of the cases based on autopsy reports. One further newborn infant was included, dating back to 1992, as it was found to be connected with one of the later cases. The mean age of the women who abandoned their newborn infants was 22 years, and five of the autopsied newborn infants were probably alive when abandoned. In two cases the newborn infants were half siblings and abandoned by the same mother. The time span from abandonment to when the newborn infant was found ranged from hours to 7 years. Two-thirds of the newborn infants were girls (66.6%). The most common means of disposal was in a plastic bag (~60%); only one newborn infant was wearing clothes when found. Causes of death were usually given as asphyxia, brain injury or simply undetermined. Two-thirds of the newborn infants showed signs of violence. None of the newborn infants had congenital malformations.
BACKGROUND: The aim of the study was to investigate possible associations between social background, other aspects of childhood environment and induced abortion among young women. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Norwegian girls (N = 2,198), comprising a representative sample, were followed up through three data collections from they were in their teens in 1992 till they were young adult women (20 - 27 years) seven years later. A questionnaire was used to collect the data and the analyses were conducted by Cox regression. The response rate for the first data collection was 97%. The cumulative response rate over all three data collections was 69 %. RESULTS: In young adulthood we uncovered a steady reduction of induced abortion rates with increasing educational level. Women who had grown up in Northern Norway had higher rates than other women. There was a lower risk for induced abortion when parents were well educated and had fairly good jobs. Further, there were associations to parental divorce, weak parental monitoring and parental alcohol abuse. INTERPRETATION: A host of socioeconomic factors are associated with abortion risk. We need more thorough knowledge about these factors. We can, however, conclude that preventive efforts in this area should be targeted towards groups with risk factors.
Comment In: Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2006 Jun 22;126(13):172716794660
In January 1994, the Health Service published its statistics about pregnancy prevention and abortion in 1991 and 1992. The number of legal abortions was 19,729 in 1991 and 18,833 in 1992, which was the lowest figure since the law was introduced about elective abortion in 1973. 2623 fewer abortions were carried out in 1992 than five years before. The general abortion rate decreased from 15.8 in 1990 to 14.9 in 1992 (it was the highest in 1975 with 23.7). The age-specific abortion rate fell mostly in the 18-29 age group, with fewer in the 15-19 and 30-34 age groups. The number of children who were born to women over 40 increased from 390 in 1982 to 864 in 1992, while the birth rate of women under 20 decreased to almost half. The abortion rate was the highest in large cities, it was about 2.5 times higher than in the county of Ringkobing, which had the lowest rate, especially in the age groups under 25 years. The combined abortion rate (per 1000 women of reproductive age) was 578 in 1982, 540 in 1990, and 505 in 1992. 97.5% of abortions were performed within 12 weeks of pregnancy in accordance with the abortion law. 2% of abortions were carried out because of the woman's health or for social indications. 80% of abortions were performed in the 10th week of pregnancy mostly with vacuum aspiration. Complications decreased compared to previous years, and made up 2.6% of all abortions in 1992, mainly bleeding and, for 1/5 of them, inflammatory conditions. Half of the women who underwent an abortion in 1992 had given birth to at least one living child, 8% to more than three. Half of the 20% of women who could given birth but chose abortion had given birth in the previous two years and 27% within less than a year before abortion. The number of spontaneous abortions was 10,717 in 1991 and 10,605 in 1992, about 1000 fewer than in 1990. The number of male sterilizations fell from 2784 in 1991 to 1722 in 1992, and female sterilizations from 4777 to 4429. About 13 million condoms and 16,000 IUDs were sold, and about 250,000 Danish women used oral contraceptives.
In 1978 the abortion law was liberalised in Norway. It permits abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and after that with the agreement of a medical commission, taking the woman's own views into consideration. In 2003, 96% of abortions took place before 12 weeks of pregnancy. There is considerable support among the population for the current law, and the right to abortion does not seem to be under threat, yet opponents of abortion attack the law frequently. Debates on recent biotechnology laws and difficulties introducing the abortion pill, on the spurious grounds that it would make abortion too easy, imply continuing moral qualms about abortion. While abortion among young, unmarried women is more accepted, many married women feel they have to justify their decision. Women are expected to feel sorrow, shame and guilt because of their sexual conduct for many reasons, but especially if the result is an unwanted pregnancy. It is easier to protect the law when there is recognition of the moral right to choose abortion. The legal battle has been won, but winning the moral battle is important in Norway now. I believe that until having an abortion is considered as acceptable morally as using contraception, women will not have gained their full reproductive rights.