Finland’s Teenage Abortions Plummet by 66%: Free Contraception and Education Credited

HELSINKI – Finland has achieved a remarkable 66% reduction in teenage abortions between 2000 and 2023, according to the Finnish public health institute THL. This significant decline is attributed to the combination of free contraception for adolescents and comprehensive sex education programs implemented in schools across the country.

The introduction of free contraception and mandatory sex education emerged as proactive measures in response to a rise in teenage abortions during the 1990s. Finland’s approach included making morning-after pills available without prescription for individuals aged 15 and older, alongside mandatory sexual education in all schools.

THL’s research professor Mika Gissler emphasized the pivotal role of sexual education in influencing behavior, while also highlighting the importance of increased access to contraception from a young age as a contributing factor to the decline in teenage abortions.

Statistics from THL reveal a substantial decrease in abortions among teenagers aged 19 or younger, dropping from 2,144 in 2000 to 722 in 2023, marking a 66% reduction. The decline was even more pronounced among those under 18, with a staggering 78% decrease during the same period.

THL’s report underscores the impact of additional measures, such as the introduction of free contraception in many welfare regions since the latter half of the 2010s, further contributing to the reduction in teenage abortions.

While Finland has witnessed a modest increase of 2.9% in the number of abortions among women of all ages from 2022 to 2023, THL notes that it is premature to assess the impact of the 2022 abortion law liberalization. The legislation, which removed the requirement for women to provide a reason for seeking abortion and made it available upon request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, came into effect in September 2023.

Finland’s proactive approach to sexual health and reproductive rights serves as a notable example of effective public health policy, emphasizing the importance of accessible contraception and comprehensive education in reducing teenage abortions and promoting reproductive health and autonomy.