Opinion concerning fetal reduction

Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics
Date: 2005-10-05


The opinion on ‘fetal reduction’ was issued on request by the Ministry of Health. ‘Fetal reduction’ is a rarely performed medical intervention when a woman is pregnant with several fetuses. One or more, but not all, fetuses are removed. It is performed when a multiple pregnancy contains a severely malformed fetus and the other(s) is(are) seemingly healthy. When a multiple pregnancy is the result of infertility treatment, the objective of ‘fetal reduction’ can however also be only to reduce the number of fetuses.

The Council makes a distinction between selective and non-selective reduction. Selective reduction should only be performed for special medical reasons. Social factors may also have an influence. Selective reduction should be considered case-by-case and permission granted by the Legal Council of the National Board of Health. The implementation should be evaluated after some time.

Non-selective reduction should be permitted along the same principles as those governing abortion, according to the Abortion Act. Cases of non-selective reduction should be reported to the National Board of Health.

It is proposed to regulate ‘fetal reduction’ in the Abortion Act.