Protests in Norway defend women’s right to abortion

By Greg McCartan
December 3, 2018
Thousands marched in Oslo and around Norway Nov. 17 against threatened law to restrict women’s right to choose abortion. Middle sign says, “Abortion is not a bargaining chip.”
Militant/Johanna EngenThousands marched in Oslo and around Norway Nov. 17 against threatened law to restrict women’s right to choose abortion. Middle sign says, “Abortion is not a bargaining chip.”

OSLO, Norway — Over 15,000 supporters of a woman’s right to choose abortion mobilized in 34 cities nationwide Nov. 17, marching against a proposed law that would restrict this right.

“I feel it should be up to the woman,” Ine Lund, a 22-year-old student, told the press.

The turnout in front of the national parliament, called Stortinget, grew to 8,000 people. Leaders of women’s organizations, including an abortion rights leader from Poland, addressed the crowd. Signs reading, “My body, my choice!” were carried by many young protesters.

The Feminist Group Ottar and the Women’s Front called the protests, which were backed by over 60 groups, including central labor organizations. Opposition political parties and their youth organizations endorsed and joined the actions.

“A woman’s body is not negotiable,” read the large banner leading the protest in the northern city of Mo i Rana. It referred to negotiations between Prime Minister Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative Party, and the Christian Democrats, a small conservative, Lutheran-based party with eight representatives in parliament.

Solberg’s minority government depends on support from the Christian Democrats, who recently debated switching to bloc with the opposition Labor Party to form a new government. To prevent the fall of her coalition, Solberg decided to woo the Christian Democrats into government by offering to negotiate restrictions on the right to abortion.

The current law allows women to choose abortion in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. After then, abortions are only allowed if the life of the mother is endangered and require the approval of two doctors. The Christian Democrats want to restrict provisions that allow women after 12 weeks to abort a fetus that is sick, injured or has genetic conditions, or selective abortions in multifetal pregnancies.

Christian Democrat leader Martine Tonnessen claimed that abortion after 12 weeks “opens up for a society where we get rid of people we don’t want.”

Solberg told the press that she has marched for women’s right to abortion in the past, a right she still “has respect for.” She claimed her negotiations with the Christian Democrats “assume that women’s rights will not be weakened.”

This isn’t the first time Solberg has tried to restrict women’s rights, Elisabeth Sjurso from The Women’s Front told the Militant. “Four years ago, we protested because the government wanted to give doctors permission to not refer abortions if they had moral problems with the procedure,” Sjurso said. “They had to retreat and now they are trying again. Most people in Norway are behind us.”

Polls show that 68 percent of Norwegians are against changing the law, with only 16 percent in favor.

The Feminist Group Ottar insisted on preventing any men from speaking at any of the rallies. Randi Mobaek, a leader of the group, justified the exclusion by saying men were welcome to participate, but on “this day it is women’s bodies and lives on the line.”

This undercuts the united struggle of working people to defend women’s rights.