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Swedish abortions decline in 2009: report

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13:42 CEST+02:00
The number of abortions performed in Sweden fell in 2009, for the first time in five years, new statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare show.

"Since 2004, the number of abortions have increased each year, but last year, the trend reversed," said statistician Tsegalem Muzullo in a statement. "Even teenage abortions fell sharply."

A total of 37,524 abortions were performed last year, over 2 percent lower than the 38,053 in 2008. Among teenagers, abortions declined by 7.8 percent to 22.5 abortions per 1,000 teenage girls compared with 24.4 the previous year.

A total of 25 percent of known pregnancies ended in an abortion last year. Among teenagers, 80 percent of known pregnancies were aborted.

The abortion rate is highest in Stockholm and Gothenburg and lowest in Blekinge, Kronoberg and Jönköping counties. Sweden has the highest abortion rate in the Nordic countries, while Finland has the lowest.

"We can see that regional disparities are large," said Muzullo. "The figures are also high in Gotland, but we have to consider that the population base is very small."

Abortion is legal until the 18th week of pregnancy. After that, an abortion is only permitted after a review by the board if it is deemed necessary for serious medical reasons. These late abortions constitute only 1 percent of the total, while 78 percent of abortions took place before the end of the ninth week of pregnancy.

"Medical abortions induced by the woman taking pills continue to grow," added Muzollo. "They now account for nearly 86 percent of all abortions that occur before the ninth week of pregnancy."

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