Reports appearing in the mass media in October 1995 citing a two-fold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism in users of third-generation compared to second-generation oral contraceptives (OCs) were followed, in Norway, by a 17% drop in total OC sales and a 70% drop in sales of the only third-generation OC (Marvelon) on the market. More than 25,000 Norwegian women discontinued OC use in November-December 1995. Abortion data from one Norwegian county, representing 6-7% of the country's population, showed no significant changes in the total number of induced abortions in the first quarter of 1996 compared to the first quarter of preceding years. However, the steady decrease in the abortion rate for women 24 years of age or younger recorded in 1992-95 was interrupted by a 36% increase during the first quarter of 1996 (5.7/1000, compared with 4.2/1000 in the first quarter of 1995). Most of the growth in abortion cases occurred among single, childless students--a subgroup in which OC use tends to be high. Although this finding suggests that the mass media's "pill scare" may have led many young women to discontinue OC use or switch to less effective formulations, evaluation of the full effect of this event cannot be completed without national data on induced abortion and the completion of birth registration.