FINLAND. Law No. 239
of 24 March 1970 on the interruption of pregnancy, as amended
by Law No. 564 of 19 July 1978 and Law No. 572 of 12 July 1985.
1. A pregnancy may be interrupted at the request
of the woman and in conformity with the provisions of this Law:
1) if continuation of the pregnancy or delivery
of a child would endanger her life or health on account of a disease,
physician defect or weakness in the woman;
2) if delivery and care of a child would place a
considerable strain on her in view of the living conditions of
the woman and her family and other circumstances;
3) if she became pregnant under the circumstances
referred to in Sections 4 and 5 of Chapter 25 or Sections 1, 3,
8 and 9 of Chapter 20 of the Penal Code, or under the conditions
referred to in Section 6 of Chapter 20 provided the act was committed
in gross violation of the woman's freedom of action;
4) if she was less than 17 or more than 40 years
of age at the time of conception, or has already had four children;
5) if there are grounds for presuming that the child
will be mentally retarded or will have, or will later develop,
a serious disease or a serious physician defect;
6) if a disease, mental disturbance or other comparable
cause, affecting one or both parents, seriously limits their capacity
to care for the child.
2. If the woman is incapable, on account of a mental
disease, mental retardation or mental disturbance, of making a
valid request for the termination of pregnancy, the operation
may be performed, provided there are sound reasons for doing so,
with the consent of her guardian or a specially appointed trustee
3. Where the woman became pregnant under the circumstances
referred to in Sections 4 or 5 of Chapter 25 or Sections 6 or
9 of Chapter 20 of the Penal Code, an abortion may not be performed
unless legal action in respect of the crime has been taken, a
complaint has been lodged in respect thereof, or clear evidence
of the crime has been obtained by a police inquiry.
If the abortion is performed, under the provisions
of item 5 of Section 1, where there are grounds for presuming
that the child will be mentally retarded because of mental retardation
in the woman, sterilization shall be carried out in conjunction
with abortion, unless there are sound reasons to the contrary.
4. Before a pregnancy is terminated in accordance
with this Law, the woman requesting the termination must be informed
of the significance and effects of the operation.
A woman who has undergone an abortion must be given
advice on contraception, in accordance with the detailed provisions
to be laid down by way of ordinance.
5. Abortions must be performed at the earliest possible
stage of pregnancy.
An abortion may not be performed after the twelfth
week of pregnancy on any grounds other than a disease or physical
defect in the woman.
If the woman was not yet 17 years of age at the time
of conception or there are other special reasons, the State Medical
Board may however authorize abortion at a later stage of pregnancy,
although not after the 20th week.
5a. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 5,
the National Board of Health may authorize the termination of
a pregnancy if, as a result of amniocentesis or an ultrasonic
examination, serological tests, or another reliable examination,
it is established that the embryo is affected by a serious disease
or physical disability, provided that the 24th week of pregnancy
has not expired.
6. An abortion may be performed:
1) in the cases referred to in items 1-3 and 6 of
Section 1, on the recommendation of two physicians or, in the
cases to be defined in detail by way or ordinance, by authorization
of the State Medical Board;
2) in the case referred to in item 4 of Section
1, by decision of the physician who performs the operation;
3) in the cases referred to in item 5 of Section
1 and the third paragraph of Section 5, by authorization of the
State Medical Board.
The recommendation by two physicians shall contain
the separate written opinions of each physician, with their grounds
being stated in detail. Of the two physicians, one shall be a
physician who renders opinions on the termination of pregnancy
(physician with authority to render an opinion) while the other
shall be the physician who performs the operation (operating physician).
The physician with authority to render an opinion and the operating
physician shall not be entitled, without reason, to refuse to
consider a request for termination of pregnancy.
If the decision of the two physicians or, in the
case referred to in item 4 of Section 1, of the physician, is
negative, an application for authorization of abortion may be
made to the State Medical Board.
7. Before the decision on termination of pregnancy
is taken, the father of the expected child, the woman's guardian
and, if the woman is an inmate of a public institution, the physician
or director of the latter, shall be given an opportunity of stating
their opinion, if this seems justified in the particular case.
Before a decision based on item 2 of Section 1 is
taken, a report on the living conditions of the woman and her
family and other circumstances shall, if this seems justified
in the particular case, be requested from the social welfare authorities
or from a midwife, public health nurse or person of corresponding
Where the woman has received special treatment for
a serious disease, the physician with authority to render an opinion
shall, before the decision is taken, seek information, as far
as possible, on the woman's state of health from the physician
who treated her for the particular disease.
8. Any licensed physician employed by the State,
a commune or association of communes and who has not, for a particular
reason, been refused the right to render opinions by the State
Medical Board, as well as any other licensed physician designated
by the State Medical Board, may act as a physician with authority
to render opinions.
The termination of pregnancy shall be carried out
in a hospital which has been approved for the purpose by the State
Medical Board (such hospitals being designated as abortion hospitals).
Any licensed physician employed in the hospital may act as an
9. If a pregnancy is to be terminated under item
1 of Section 1, and the examination of the indications for the
operation in accordance with Section 6 of the performance of the
operation in a hospital as referred to in the second paragraph
of Section 8 are not possible without seriously endangering the
woman's life or health on account of the delay involved or other
reasons, the pregnancy may be terminated by a licensed physician
without conforming to these particular provisions.
10. Those matters which, in accordance with Section
1, 5 and 6 of this Law, are within the jurisdiction of the State
Medical Board shall be dealt with at special sessions in the presence
of additional members representing the law, psychiatry, obstetrics,
genetics and social science, under the conditions to be prescribed
in detail by way or ordinance.
The State Medical Board shall deal with matters referred
to in the first paragraph above on a priority basis. The State
Medical Board's decisions on such matters shall not be subject
11. The State Medical Board shall take measures to
ensure that there are a sufficient number of physicians with authority
to render opinions, and a sufficient number of abortion hospitals,
in all parts of the country, and that physicians with authority
to render opinions and operating physicians make every effort
to adopt an impartial and consistent approach.
12. [Professional secrecy]
13. Any person who, without observing the provisions
of this Law, performs or attempts to perform an abortion which
would otherwise be lawful, shall be liable to a fine or up to
one year's imprisonment.
14. Any person who, although in possession of the
facts, makes a false statement or a false notification on a matter
concerning the termination of pregnancy, shall be liable, except
if more severe penalties are prescribed by other provisions, to
a fine or up to one year's imprisonment.
15. Detailed provisions for the implementation of
this Law shall be promulgated by way or ordinance.
16. This Law shall enter into force on 1 June 1970
and at the same time the Law of 17 February on the termination
of pregnancy shall be repealed.
FINLAND. Ordinance No.
359 of 29 May 1970 on the interruption of pregnancy.
1. Authorization for the interruption of pregnancy
shall be applied for, whether to a physician or the State Medical
Board, by the woman herself, unless she is incapable, because
of mental disease, mental retardation or mental disturbance, of
making a valid application for the operation.
2. If the woman is incapable, for one of the reasons
indicated in Section 1, of making a valid request for an abortion,
the authorization may be applied for by:
1) a specially appointed trustee and, in the case
of a person under guardianship, the guardian; and
2) if the woman is an inmate of a public institution,
the director of the latter.
3. An application for authorization submitted to
the State Medical Board must be personally signed by the applicant,
the applicant's signature being vouched for by two impartial persons.
The application shall be accompanied by:
1) an official certificate issued by the competent
registry office, indicating the woman's marital status and the
name and date of birth of her husband, children and, if she is
a minor, her parents;
2) a report concerning the father, if item 5 of
Section 1 of Law No. 239 of 24 March 1970 is cited as the grounds
for the interruption of pregnancy, and there are reasons for presuming
that the child will be mentally retarded or affected by a serious
disease or a serious physician defect because of a corresponding
condition in the father;
3) an opinion based on an examination by an impartial
physician or, in the case referred to in the third paragraph of
Section 6 of the Law on the interruption of pregnancy, the opinions
and decision previously issued by the physicians rendering a negative
4) a report on other circumstances which may affect
The prescribed forms must be used for the medical
opinions and applications.
4. If the application is not accompanied by a report
as referred to in Section 3, the State Medical Board shall if
necessary order the applicant to submit it within a fixed period
If the application is not accompanied by a written
statement from those persons who, under Section 7 of the Law,
must be given an opportunity to express their opinion, the State
Medical Board must, if this is justified in the particular case,
afford them the possibility of expressing their opinion on the
5. If the State Medical Board observes, from the
reports submitted to it annually, that there are insufficient
physicians with authority to render opinions, or insufficient
abortion hospitals, in some parts of the country, on account of
long distances, a shortage of physicians or hospitals, or other
reasons of this nature, it shall order that the submission of
applications for authorization of abortion emanating from these
areas may, until further notice, be made directly to the Board.
The State Medical Board shall be responsible for
informing county, municipal, urban district and communal medical
officers and, through their intermediary, the communal maternal
and child health advisory bureaux and the marriage and social
guidance centres controlled by the Finnish Population and Family
Welfare League [Väestöllitto r.y.], in respect to approved
abortion hospitals and areas designated by the Board under the
first paragraph of this Section. Notice shall also be sent of
the physicians who, under the first paragraph of Section 8 of
the Law on the interruption of pregnancy, have been specially
designated by the State Medical Board as being entitled to act
as physicians with authority to render opinions, as well as of
physicians whom the State Medical Board has disqualified from
6. The recommendation referred to in item 1 of the
first paragraph of Section 6 and the decision referred to in item
2 of the same paragraph must be drawn up on the prescribed forms.
In a case covered by the first paragraph of Section
3 of the Law, the applicant must submit a certificate issued by
the competent prosecutor or police authority conforming that legal
action has been taken in respect of the crime or that it has been
the subject of a complaint, or a written certificate providing
clear evidence of the crime, issued by the police authority and
based on a police inquiry.
7. It shall be the responsibility of the physician
with authority to render an opinion to provide the information
referred to in the first paragraph of Section 4 of the Law to
any woman requesting an abortion.
Every woman who has had her pregnancy terminated
must, before being discharged from hospital, be given advice on
contraception by a hospital physician.
8. The State Medical Board shall issue, for the benefit
of physicians with authority to render opinions and operating
physicians, instructions and directives concerning the implementation
of those provisions of the Law and this Ordinance which may give
rise to difficulties of interpretation. The State Medical Board
shall, in particular, provide guidelines to the above physicians
with a view to the adoption of uniform practices in the interpretation
of the indications for abortion.
9. Operating physicians must notify the State Medical
Board of any abortions performed, within one month after the operation.
All documents concerning the case shall be carefully preserved
in the hospital archives, under the responsibility of the physician
in charge of the hospital. If the abortion has been performed
under the circumstances referred to in Section 9 of the Law, all
documents relating to the case shall be sent to the State Medical
Board at the same time as the aforesaid notification.
10. [Supervisory and disciplinary power of the State
Medical Board in respect to physicians and hospitals]
11. [Official forms]
12. The State Medical Board shall direct and supervise
educational activities relating to the guidance of the public
on birth control as a preventive measure against abortion and,
in particular, as a measure aimed at reducing the illegal abortion
rate; it must ensure, in particular, that citizens are given information,
either through publications or other media, on the prevention
13. This Ordinance shall enter into force on 1 June