Dutch parliament debates penalisation of abortion


Western Europe


Boss in own belly. That's is the message of pro-abortion demonstrators in Amsterdam, Holland. The Parliament will speak about scrapping the termination from the Penal Code. Photo ANP, Koen van Weel

On Wednesday, the Dutch Lower House debates about the penalisation of abortion. A citizens’ initiative brought this to the parliamentary agenda.

According to the law, abortion is still part of the Penal Code, the Dutch Reformatorisch Dagblad explains. In an emergency situation, the penalisation is lifted. But it has never been scrapped.

That is the middle road of the compromise reached in 1977. The legislator found it still necessary to stress the value of unborn life. And the law is still like that.

In practice, however, the emergency situation has been normalised and is no exception. The judiciary does not receive reports about abortions.

Human right

At the moment, there is a new debate, not only in Holland but all over Europe. In that debate, abortion is defended as a human right. And a human right cannot be part of the Penal Code simultaneously.

Apart from that, pro-abortion defenders fear the strength of the anti-abortion movement. For that reason, abortion rights need to be deeper rooted. Therefore, a group started a citizens’ initiative to get the topic on the parliament’s table.

Another argument is that the fact that abortion is part of the Penal Code is stigmatising for women who had an abortion, since the law suggests that they are ‘criminal’.

The same topic would come to the table of the Lower House anyway. Apart from the citizens’ petition, there is a private members’ bill from GreenLeft MP Ellemeet to do the same. Sooner or later, this initiative will come into debate.



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