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Finnish MPs approve abortion law reform

The change will ease one of Europe's strictest, decades-old, abortion laws.

Täysistuntosali ennen istuntoa.
Among the reform's justifications was the better protection of women's bodily autonomy. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

The Finnish Parliament has voted to approve a law reform that will ease the process of getting an abortion. MPs passed the law by a wide margin of 125-41 on Wednesday afternoon. One MP abstained while 32 were absent.

Before the legislative change, Finland had the Nordic region's strictest abortion law, which required approval from two doctors to terminate a pregnancy. The previous legislation dates back to the 1970s.

Under the reform, one physician's opinion will be enough to undergo the medical procedure. 

In addition, going forward, a woman's request for a termination will be sufficient to obtain an abortion, without needing to provide further reasons, up to the 12th week of gestation.

The 41 MPs who opposed the reforms included four members of the Centre Party, one of the main partners in Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) coalition five-party government. One Centre MP also abstained.

The topic has split opinions within other parties as well, with some politicians arguing that their view on the topic was a matter of individual conscience rather than party politics.

Such a divide was observed in the Finnish Parliament's Social Affairs and Health Committee vote in September, particularly among the Centre as well as the opposition Finns Party. All but three Finns Party lawmakers voted against the reform, along with all representatives of the opposition Christian Democrats.

The reform could take effect as soon as the beginning of 2023, depending on when changes to some other associated laws come into force.

15.40: Updated with more details.

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