ICELAND – Bill tabled in Parliament to allow Polish and Maltese women to have an abortion in Iceland

Rósa Björk Brynsjólfsdóttir, an independent member of Iceland’s Parliament, and 18 other MPs, drafted the proposal in response to current events in Poland. “I think it is extremely important that the Icelandic Parliament takes a stand on women’s rights in Europe, and shows in action that we want to stand up for women’s and human rights. It also gives a clear message to the Polish community in Iceland,” Rósa said. The bill would cover women from Poland and Malta. It would be free of charge and available to those who hold a European Health Insurance Card. The proposal says an abortion can only be carried out if “the person in question cannot undergo an abortion due to legal obstacles in their home country”.

If the proposal is approved, the Minister of Health, Svandís Svarvarsdóttir, will be tasked with making sure those who travel to Iceland to have an abortion receive proper healthcare. The service will be free of charge.

Ásmundur Friðriksson, MP for the Independence Party, raised issue with the proposal at the most recent open meeting of the Welfare Committee, where concerns about the health system were on the agenda. Asmunder thought too many abortions were being carried out in Iceland – 1,000 a year. He asked if the country could handle the extra services. Rósa responded that she did not expect an increased burden on the health system, or any high costs, that healthcare professionals had responded very positively to the proposal, and she thought the healthcare system could handle it.

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir later said in an interview that the debate had moved from abortion as a health issue for those unable to have abortions in their home countries to abortion as a right, which Iceland had decided some time ago to respect. She did not want to see it politicised.

It was not clear from the reports whether the bill had already been voted on.

SOURCES: Reykjavik Grapevine, by Jess Distill, 17 November 2020 ; Reykjavik Grapevine, by Jess Distill, PHOTO by Art Bicnick, 5 November 2020 ; RÚV +VISUAL FROM A NEWS VIDEO ABOUT POLAND, 4 November 2020 ; Reykjavik Grapevine, by Jess Distill, 3 November 2020