Almost 37,000 abortions were registered in Sweden in 2017, according to new statistics by Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
Of these, 84 percent were carried out before week nine and 55 percent before week seven. The corresponding figures in 1994 were 45 percent and four percent, respectively.
Part of the reason is the introduction of medical abortion in Sweden in the 1990s, a non-surgical procedure for which the woman takes what's often referred to as “the abortion pill” to bring about the abortion. In 2017, 93 percent of abortions were medical and only seven a surgical procedure.
“A lot of women think medical abortions feel more natural,” Inga-Maj Andersson, researcher at the National Board of Health and Welfare, told Swedish news agency TT.
The figures mean that more and more abortions are also completed at home rather than hospital. The woman then has the option of taking the first dose of the medication in hospital and the second dose at home, rather than returning to hospital for the second dose.
In 2017, 75 percent of all early abortions were carried out at home, compared to 62 percent in 2014.
“Completing your abortion at home of course does not suit all women, but some experience hospitals as an unknown and scary environment. It may then be more comfortable to be at home, where you feel safer and possibly even have your partner present,” said Andersson.
Sweden allows free abortion until the end of the 18th week of the pregnancy and the 22nd week with permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare, usually for health reasons.
The number of abortions carried out annually in Sweden has remained at a steady level in the past decade. A total of 36,616 procedures were registered in 2017 – in other words around 20 abortions per 1,000 women – compared to for example 38,177 in 2016 and 37,205 in 2007.