NETHERLANDS – GPs can now prescribe abortion pills up to nine weeks

In the Netherlands, GPs can now prescribe abortion pills, but only up to nine weeks, the Upper House of the Parliament decided on 6 December. Until now, the pills could only be obtained through one of the country’s 16 abortion clinics. The proposal had already passed the Lower House by a big majority in March 2022. This is the second liberalisation of Dutch abortion law this year. The five-day “reflection” period was abolished earlier in the year.

Several studies during 2022 showed that a proportion of GPs are willing to provide abortion pill prescriptions, but the numbers ranged quite widely. It is not yet clear whether GPs can provide the pills or just prescribe them.

As long as GPs step up, this advance will allow for greater access to abortion pills. But it may also put the 16 abortion clinics at risk financially, although they will still be needed for abortions after nine weeks and anyone who prefers aspiration to pills. Public Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said he did not wish to guarantee that all clinics would remain operational, but that a network with national coverage will continue to exist.

Abortion is allowed in the Netherlands up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Girls under age 16 need  parental consent.

SOURCES: Yvonne Bogaarts, Rutgers NL, 7 December 2022 ; EuroNews247, by Freddie Scott, 6 December 2022 ; NL Times, 7 March 2022; Dutch Review, by Francesca Burbano, 7 December 2022 ;, 7 December 2022 (in Polish) ; Image