MPs debate plan to scrap five day ‘thinking time’ wait before an abortion

The Dutch parliamentary complex. Photo:

MPs will today debate a Labour party and GroenLinks motion which would remove the compulsory five day wait before women can have an abortion, broadcaster NOS reported on Thursday.

The two parties and womens’ rights groups argue that the five day wait between an initial consultation with a doctor and the operation is both difficult for women and unnecessary.

The wait applies to all women who are more than 16 days pregnant and want an abortion. It was included in Dutch abortion law when the practice became legal in early 1980s and has been controversial ever since.

Religious parties in parliament, and CDA health minister Hugo de Jonge, support the waiting period and this makes it unlikely any action will be taken, even if a majority of MPs vote in favour of the motion, insiders say.

De Jonge has already said he will not deal with any major ethical issues before the March general election.

The rate of abortions compared to live pregnancies in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world at 8.8 per 1000 in 2018. Most procedures involved women from 25 to 30 years old  and are carried out before the seventh week of pregnancy.

D66 MP Pia Dijkstra is also working on draft legislation which would scrap the waiting period as well.

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