Researchers at the Erasmus medical centre and the Amsterdam medical centre are asking health minister Edith Schippers to drop the 24-week limit on abortion.
At the moment, an abortion is legal up to 24 weeks, but if there are clear medical implications, a late abortion or ending the life of the newborn is allowed. In these cases, a law dating from 2007 states that doctors must report them.
Since 2007, six cases of late abortion and one case where the life of a newborn was ended have been reported each year.
However, researchers at the two medical centres have discovered that the number of cases is much higher, the Telegraaf reports. They estimate there have been 30 late abortions and 10 cases of ending the life of a newborn a year.
‘We think doctors are not reporting these cases because the rules governing them are so strict,’ Agnes van der Heide, professor of medical care, told the paper.
The rules say there must be absolute certainty about the diagnosis and prognosis of the child for a late abortion. ‘But this is extremely difficult based on an echo at 20 weeks,’ Van der Heide said.
For the ending of life, the criteria include unbearable suffering at the moment of birth, but the life is often ended to prevent unbearable suffering in the future, she said.
It would also be good to know what ending of life means exactly. ‘It is often the case that the newborn will die soon and is given medical help to die sooner,’ Van der Heide said.
The Christian party ChristenUnie plans to ask health minister Edith Schippers to refuse this request during parliamentary questions on Tuesday.
They say the abortion limit should be lowered to 18 weeks. This would return the 20-week scan to its original intention of planning future treatment if there is a medical problem.
Schippers has already written to parliament to say she will respond to the conclusions and suggestions in the report at the end of the year.