NETHERLANDS – Court rejects plea for telemedicine access to abortion pills

Judges in Den Haag have rejected a court application to force the Health Ministry to make abortion pills available by telemedicine to women who are unable to make the requisite visit to a clinic. Women who want to terminate an early pregnancy are therefore still bound by law to visit an abortion clinic before they can be given the pills. Women on Waves and Bureau Clara Wichmann took the case to court.

One of the women the case was taken for was Trix, who ​​currently has an unwanted pregnancy. She is a single mother with a daughter with Covid-19 symptoms and therefore cannot leave the house if she is to follow government guidelines. The aim was to make it possible for a GP and/or abortion doctor to be able to provide the abortion pill by post after a telephone consultation or to have them collected from a pharmacy.

The case was meant to include two other women too, who felt unable to sue at the last minute. One is in an unsafe home situation with a partner who does not know she is pregnant. She had no cover to be able to attend court. The other woman lives on an island and will have to travel four hours each way to go to an abortion clinic.

The court has yet to publish its formal reasoning for the ruling.

The Netherlands through this judgment is violating the rights of vulnerable women who are unable to access abortion care. Bureau Clara Wichmann and Women on Waves will continue to support Trix and stand up for the interests of the larger group of women who do not have access to abortion pills due to the Covid-19 lockdown. They are currently considering their next steps.

SOURCE: Bureau Clara Wichmann, 10 April 2020 (in Dutch) ; Dutch News, 11 April 2020