Women forced to wait weeks for abortions

Many women who decide they want an abortion are sometimes forced to wait weeks before getting professional help in Sweden, often times so long that they are no longer able to have a medical abortion and are forced to undergo the more painful, invasive surgical abortion.

Lena Marions, head doctor at the women’s clinic at Karolinska University hospital in Solna, said the wait is far too long.

“Long waiting times can lead to a woman needing to go through a surgical abortion, even though she may have wanted a medical abortion,” she said on Monday, according to Swedish Radio. “There are always complications when you do a surgical procedure, even if we consider the risks small, they are still there.”

Marions said the ideal waiting time would be no more than a week or two. Anything longer is unacceptable to her.

In Stockholm County, hospitals this summer had wait times of up to four weeks just to see a doctor. After the initial visit, women then had to wait additional weeks before the abortion was done, reported Swedish Radio. The longest wait time was nearly six weeks.

The wait times are less now in September, but it can still take up to four weeks from the first contact before the procedure in done. Wait times are a bit less in other parts of the country.

Marions said a system that would allow professionals to tell women where to turn to get the fastest help would be welcomed, instead of women having to call around themselves looking for help.

Women in Sweden have had the right to abortion up to the eighteenth week since 1975. After that time, only special conditions warrant an abortion and after week 22, special government permission is needed.

If a female is under 18 years old, parents are required to be notified, reported Swedish Radio.