Abortion in the Netherlands

The abortion in the Netherlands or induced abortion in the Netherlands is legal on request, with a waiting period of five days within a maximum of 24 weeks of gestation. 1

History of abortion in Holland

Legalization in the Penal Code of 1886 and Laws of Morality of 1911

Abortion was legalized under the Penal Code of 1886. However, the convictions were almost excluded by a requirement that the prosecution prove that the fetus had been alive until abortion. The Laws of Morality of 1911 closed this legal gap and prohibited all abortions except those made to save the life of women.

Law of terms of 1980

The law regulating voluntary termination of pregnancy in the Netherlands was approved in 1980, came into force in 1981 and its implementing regulation was approved in 1984. It is a deadline law allowing abortion within the first 24 weeks of gestation. In practice most abortions take place within 22 weeks. Only medical abortions extend to week 24. 2

The legalization of abortion was a matter of public debate in the Netherlands during the 1970s when many other Western European countries liberalized their laws. However, the States-General of the Netherlands were unable to reach a consensus among those who opposed legislation, those who favored the legalization of abortion and those who favored a compromise. The 1980 law on abortion came into force in 1981 with an undecided vote: 76 in favor and 74 against in the Second Chamber and 38 in favor and 37 against in the First Chamber. The law left abortion a crime, unless it is done in a medical center or hospital that has a certificate of official abortion given by the Dutch government, and the woman who asks for the abortion declare that it considers the situation an emergency.

Health services

Currently, there are just over 100 Dutch general hospitals certified to perform abortions, and 17 medical centers specializing in abortion. More than 90% of abortions take place in specialized medical centers.

In the Netherlands , an abortion can be performed at a medical center or hospital at any time between conception and viability , prone to psychological counseling and a five-day waiting period. After the first trimester, the procedure becomes tighter, and two physicians must consent to treatment. In practice, abortions are performed until about 24 weeks of pregnancy, although this limit is the subject of current debate among doctors in the Netherlands, because because of recent medical advances, a viable fetus can be considered before 24 weeks. As a result of this discussion, abortions are rarely performed after 22 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions after the first trimester should be performed in a hospital.

Number of abortions in Holland

The number of abortions has declined since 1980 to approximately 33,000 every year, 3 approximately 0.2% of inhabitants. This figure is similar to that of other European countries. 4


  1. Back to top↑ Abortion in Europe, RTVE, July 11, 2008
  2. Back to top↑ Who are the women who abort? – Holland
  3. Back to top↑ «MinVWS – Abortion» . Consulted on July 5, 2008 .
  4. Back to top↑ «NationMaster – Abortion per capita» . Archived from the original on November 7, 2015 . Consulted on July 5, 2008 .