Dutch Supreme Court: Forced anti-conception only justified as health protection


Western Europe


Different pregnancy tests on the shelf in a local pharmacy. Photo AFP, Seth Herald

Women may not be forced to take anti-conception because of severe psychiatric symptoms. Forced anti-conception can only be justified when the pregnancy or delivery brings severe health risks. That is the ruling of the Dutch supreme court last week.

Forcing someone to take anti-conception just to prevent them from having children is therefore no longer allowed, the Dutch daily NRC reports. In 2020, at least six women were prevented from having children because the delivery would lead to “serious disadvantages”, such as neglect. Judges used the law “Mandatory mental health care” to justify this measure.

However, the Solicitor General argued that this law could not be used as a ground for forced anti-conception. Now, the Supreme Court agrees with this statement. The judges ruled that children who are not conceived yet have no legal protection. Therefore, the autonomy of women should not be limited for that reason.

The only case in which forced anti-conception would be justified is when a woman's health is at risk. Last spring, a woman challenged her forced anti-conception, even though she was at risk of dying in the case of a pregnancy. In such a case, the judges ruled, “forced anti-conception can prevent this severe disadvantage for the person in question.”



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