Last year, 37,693 abortions were performed in Sweden, according to figures from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
The figure represents a marginal increase in the number of abortions per woman of childbearing age compared to 2009.
But in the youngest age group, the statistics show a clear reduction in the number of abortions, marking the fourth year in a row that teenage abortions have dropped in Sweden.
Overall, teenage abortions fell by 7.1 percent compared to 2009, corresponding to a reduction of 6,390 abortions among girls and young women younger than 20-years-old.
“The drop can be a sign that youth clinics and contraceptive advice works well,” the health board’s Karin Gottvall told the TT news agency.
But there are regional differences – abortions among teenage girls are most common on the Baltic island of Gotland, Värmland in central Sweden, and in Stockholm County.
The procedure is least common in Blekinge in the south, as well as Kronoberg and Jönköping counties in south central Sweden.
“This is controlled by politicians on the county councils, and we’ve noticed that birth control pill subsidies are very different in different county councils. That’s unfortunate,” Åsa Regnér, head of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) told TT.
Nearly eight of ten abortions were carried out before the tenth week.
Late-term abortions, which are carried out after the 18th week and require special permission, made up 1.1 percent of all abortions carried out last year, up from 0.9 percent in 2009.
A total of 410 abortions were carried out after the 18th week of pregnancy in Sweden in 2010, most often due to injuries to the foetus, chromosome abnormalities, or social problems for the pregnant women.
Late-term abortions have gained attention recently in connection of reports that late-aborted foetuses sometimes show signs of life following the procedure.
RFSU has nevertheless defended the procedure.
“One should be careful about commenting on what the increase may depend on, when it’s so small. But half of late abortions involve women with major psychological or social problems. These are the most vulnerable women in society and for them, late-term abortions fulfill an important need,” said Regnér.