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World Health Stat Q. 1979;32(4):246-56.

The interaction between legalization of abortion and contraception in Denmark.



Trends in fertility, abortion, and contraceptive practice in Denmark were analyzed, using previously compiled official statistics; the conclusion was drawn that easy access to abortion may contribute toward a decline in contraceptive practice depending on the level of contraceptive practice in the population and on the degree of confidence the population has in available contraceptive methods. In October 1973 Denmark passed a law permitting women to obtain free abortion on demand. The number of legal abortions increased from 16,500 in 1973 to 28,000 in 1975. This marked increase was not attributable to a decline in illegal abortion since that annual number had declined from 5,000 to 1,000 prior to the passage of the 1973 abortion on demand law. The increase in abortion observed from 1973-1975 was accompanied by a marked decrease in the number of oral contraceptive cycles sold. Annual sales decreased from 3.9 million cycles to 2.6 million. It was difficult to access the factors responsible for this decline. Although IUD insertions increased during this period, the increase could not adequately compensate for the reduction in oral contraceptive sales. The decline in oral contraceptive sales occurred at about the time the negative side effects associated with the pill received widespread news coverage. Some of the decline in pill usage was probably due to fear of side effects, but abortion availability also encouraged women to be more lax about taking the pill and encouraged them to rely on less effective methods of contraception. Tables provide data for Denmark in reference to: 1) number of legal abortions and the abortion rates for 1940-1977; 2) distribution of abortions by season, 1972-1977; 3) abortion rates by maternal age, 1971-1977; 4) oral contraceptive and IUD sales for 1977-1978; and 5) number of births and estimated number of abortions and conceptions, 1960-1975.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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