IN MEMORIAM – Dutch GP Paul Bekkering established the first official abortion clinic in the Netherlands 

Dutch GP Paul Bekkering recalled the 1970s and confronting a Roman Catholic padre demonstrating vociferously in the street outside the abortion clinic where he worked. Eventually the doctor turned away: debating was “pointless.” Yet he and his and colleagues’ actions were changing Dutch medicine.

Bekkering died recently, aged 91. He was one of four doctors who defied conservative post-war Dutch society to establish the first official abortion clinic in Arnhem at Mildred House in 1971, 13 years before abortion was officially made legal. He said that, when approached by often very young and poor, women facing backstreet clinics or forced to try to travel abroad for an abortion, he was adamant. “Women ask for your help and then you have to do it, full stop.”

[[Editor’s Note: This article is not open access and this information is all I can access. There was also a recent television documentary in which he looked back over the 50 years since he and the others made history with their clinic. If anyone can expand on this report with more information, and especially with the history he describes in the documentary, please send it to me at Even if it’s in Dutch!! Thanks! Marge]

SOURCE: BMJ, by Tony Sheldon, 10 December 2021 ; PHOTO: Arre Bekkering in BMJ